More than 40 percent of U.S. adults have obesity, and more than 19 percent of children and teens also have obesity. This condition disproportionately affects people from certain racial and ethnic groups and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged.
Individuals with obesity may develop devastating health problems, face reduced life expectancy, and experience stigma and discrimination. Obesity is a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and many other disorders within the NIDDK’s mission.
NIDDK supports research on the causes and consequences of obesity and potential prevention and treatment strategies, including behavioral, biomedical, surgical, and environmental approaches in adults and children. This research also provides an evidence base to inform patients, healthcare providers, payers, and policy makers. NIDDK supports research on the biologic processes associated with body weight regulation, including genetic factors; neural circuits and tissue cross talk; adipocyte (fat cell) biology and the link between obesity and inflammation; the role of the microbiome (gut bacteria and other microbes); sleep and circadian rhythms; and other emerging areas that may lead to new prevention and treatment approaches.
The NIDDK also plays a leading role in the NIH Obesity Research Task Force, which organizes scientific meetings and seminars, engages in strategic planning for NIH obesity research, and promotes and coordinates collaborative research efforts across the NIH.
In addition, NIDDK has congressional authorization for the Nutrition Disorders Program, which provides services via the NIDDK Health Information Center. NIDDK responds to questions and provides health information about weight management to health professionals and the public.
Research Updates and News
- Parenting program to prevent obesity in firstborn children benefits siblings
- Large-scale genetic study identifies genes that increase risk of obesity while protecting against other metabolic diseases
- Story of discovery: how different medications for diabetes and obesity emerged from basic research on one pancreatic hormone
- Diet versus surgery for metabolic health: weighing the benefits for people with obesity and type 2 diabetes
- Your brain on high-fat food: why diets may fail
Select Landmark Studies
- Bariatric Surgery for Teens with Severe Obesity Study: Teen-LABS
- Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS)
- Long-term Lifestyle Change for Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity Study: Look AHEAD
What We Do
To achieve its mission, NIDDK supports, conducts, coordinates, and plans research. NIDDK also provides data and samples from NIDDK-funded studies and explains research findings to health professionals and the public.
NIDDK invests in basic, clinical and translational research and training at colleges, universities and other institutions.
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Endocrinology and Hormone Signaling
- Metabolic Pathways
- Metabolism, Energy Balance, and Obesity
- Neurobiology of Obesity
- Nutrient Metabolism, Status, and Assessment
- Nutrition and Obesity Genetics and Genomics
NIDDK investigators conduct biomedical research and training in the Institute's laboratories and clinical facilities in Maryland and Arizona.
- Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch
- Genetics of Development and Disease Branch
- Laboratory of Biological Modeling
- Laboratory of Cell and Molecular Biology
- Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology
- Laboratory of Endocrinology and Receptor Biology
- Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Coordinate & Plan Research
NIDDK takes multiple approaches to research planning and priority setting.
Meetings & Workshops
- 2022 Annual Mid Atlantic Diabetes Obesity Research Symposium
- Workshop on Housing and Obesity: Gaps, Opportunities, and Future Directions for Advancing Health Equity
Strategic Plans & Reports
- NIDDK Strategic Plan for Research
- 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research
- Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research
Provide Access to Research Resources
NIDDK makes publicly supported resources, data sets, and studies available to researchers.View all Research Resources