Clinical Trials for Overweight & Obesity

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

What are clinical trials for overweight and obesity?

Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Scientists are conducting research to learn more about overweight and obesity, including studies on the role of dietary patterns in obesity development and treatment; novel behavioral, medication, device, and surgical approaches; and other research areas that can tell us more about why people develop obesity or respond to treatment. For example, scientists are conducting clinical trials to

  • identify which patients may respond to a specific drug or type of diet
  • learn how bacteria in in a person’s gastrointestinal tract may affect his or her risk of becoming overweight or obese
  • study how metabolism influences obesity and related health conditions
  • investigate how a mother’s weight gain during pregnancy can affect her later health and the health of her baby
  • learn how physical activity improves or maintains weight and overall health

Researchers also use clinical trials to look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Find out if clinical trials are right for you.

What clinical trials for overweight and obesity are open?

Clinical trials funded by the NIH or other government agencies focused on treating or managing overweight and obesity that are currently open and recruiting can be viewed at This is a curated list of clinical trials, but you can expand or narrow your search to find more clinical trials for overweight and obesity.

What has research taught us about overweight and obesity?

The NIDDK has supported many research projects to learn more about overweight and obesity. Examples include:

  • Look AHEAD: Action for Health in Diabetes Trial. This study has shown that people with type 2 diabetes can lose weight and maintain that weight loss through a program of healthy eating and regular physical activity. The study has also shown that weight loss provides added health benefits, such as better physical mobility and quality of life. The trial has been extended to study the long-term results of weight loss through healthy eating and physical activity programs in older adults with type 2 diabetes.
  • The Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery followed more than 2,400 participants with extreme obesity who underwent bariatric surgery at one of the participating centers. Participants were followed for up to 7 years. Overall, bariatric surgery was safe and had a positive impact on many obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, with good long-term maintenance of the lost weight. However, some risks were identified, such as an increased risk for alcohol use disorders in participants who had gastric bypass surgery.
February 2018

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Jamy D. Ard, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Wake Forest School of Medicine