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NIH Launches Worksite Wellness Lectures


New and Updated WIN Publications

Meeting Notes



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NIH, NIDDK Act To Coordinate Obesity Research


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently established an NIH-wide Obesity Research Task Force to facilitate progress in research into the prevention and treatment of obesity. NIH director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., established the task force because obesity-related illnesses are on the rise and are relevant to almost all the NIH institutes and centers. The task force, co-chaired by Allen Spiegel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), will develop an NIH-wide strategic plan for obesity research based on areas of greatest scientific opportunity and need. It will also serve as a point of contact for obesity research-related issues between NIH and external agencies.

Office of Obesity Research

At the same time, NIDDK, the Government’s lead agency for obesity research, established the Office of Obesity Research (OOR). The rise in both obesity and research opportunities, as well as the need to coordinate obesity-related research within NIDDK, prompted creation of the new office. The OOR will take a multidisciplinary approach, supporting research into both the biological and behavioral factors contributing to obesity. It will guide and coordinate the obesity-related research of more than 11 NIH programs. This research ranges from basic studies of metabolism and appetite to major clinical trials such as Look AHEAD, a long-term, multi-site study to examine the health effects of weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes.

The OOR will carry out its functions through the NIDDK Obesity Research Working Group. The Working Group is composed of representatives from various NIDDK branches and divisions, including the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (DDN), the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism (DEM), the NIDDK Review Branch, the Office of Scientific Program and Policy Analysis (OSPPA), and the Division of Nutrition Research Coordination (DNRC).

Clinical Obesity Research Panel

To avoid confusion with the NIH task force, the NIDDK-sponsored panel of leading obesity researchers and clinicians formerly called the National Task Force on Prevention and Treatment of Obesity has changed its name to the NIDDK Clinical Obesity Research Panel (CORP). The panel synthesizes current science-based information on obesity prevention and treatment, and develops statements on topics of clinical importance. These statements are published in leading medical journals and adapted by WIN for the general public. The panel also advises NIDDK on emerging research needs, identifies concepts for future clinical studies of obesity, and serves in an advisory capacity to WIN.s

Claude Lenfant, M.D., Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of NIH, announced his retirement as of August 30, 2003. Dr. Lenfant has been NHLBI’s director since July 1982. During that time, he has worked closely with NIDDK in the areas of obesity research and prevention. He has been with NIH since 1971, first as director of the NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases, then as director of the NIH Fogarty International Center, before assuming the directorship of NHLBI. Most recently, he served as co-chair of the NIH Obesity Research Task Force along with Dr. Spiegel.


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