Nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults have obesity, and more than 18 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 suffer 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 responds to questions and provides health information about weight management to people with obesity and to their families, health professionals, and the public. NIDDK received congressional authorization for the Weight-control Information Network (WIN). WIN provides the general public, health professionals, and the media with science-based, up-to-date, culturally relevant materials and tips.
Research Updates and News
- High blood sugar during pregnancy ups risk of mother’s type 2 diabetes, child’s obesity
- Understanding calorie burning in early pregnancy—moving toward improving health for mothers and children
- Panel calls for improvements in research on natural experiments to combat the obesity epidemic
- From body to brain and back again—how the hormone leptin utilizes brain cell circuits to regulate appetite, calorie burning, and glucose levels
- “Sensing” a genetic predisposition to obesity
Select Landmark Studies
- Bariatric Surgery for Teens with Severe Obesity Study: Teen-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
- Body Composition Measurements from Birth through 5 Years: Challenges, Gaps, and Existing & Emerging Technologies
- The Physiology of the Weight Reduced State
- Precision Medicine in Pancreatic Disease: Knowledge Gaps and Research Opportunities
- Workshop on Metabolic Interactions between Folic Acid Excess and Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- 2019 Mid-Atlantic Diabetes and Obesity Research Symposium
Strategic Plans & Reports
- NIDDK Recent Advances & Emerging Opportunities 2019
- Draft Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research
- NIH Nutrition Research Report 2015 & 2016
- 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