U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Digestive Disease and Nutrition

Digestive Diseases and NutritionDigestive diseases are among the leading causes of doctor visits, hospitalizations, and disability in the United States each year. These conditions span a wide spectrum of disorders that affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, as well as obesity and other nutrition-related disorders. Some digestive diseases, such as celiac disease, can be triggered by the body’s reaction to certain foods. Digestive diseases can cause serious complications ranging from severe pain to elevated risk of cancer to liver failure.

NIDDK-supported scientists are investigating the complex interactions among the genetic, environmental, immune, microbial, and other factors that contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel diseases and other digestive disorders. This research, in turn, may lead to improved diagnosis and prevention approaches, and catalyze the design of novel therapeutic strategies.

NIDDK also supports research to better understand the genes that predispose individuals to develop celiac disease, which may improve early diagnosis of the disease, before damage occurs. NIDDK-funded scientists are working on how GI microorganisms influence the development and function of the digestive tract and immune and metabolic functions.

NIDDK, along with other NIH, federal, and non-federal partners, is also continuing efforts to address goals for advancing digestive diseases research in the NIH-led National Commission on Digestive Diseases research plan. NIDDK's Office of Nutrition Research is also assisting the NIH Nutrition Research Task Force with the development of the first NIH-wide strategic plan for nutrition research.

In addition, NIDDK received congressional authorization for the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse provides public inquiry response services and health information about digestive diseases to people with digestive diseases and to their families, health professionals, and the public.