National Cancer Institute Home at the National Institutes of Health |

Monitoring Risk & Health Behaviors

Obesity Policy Research

Obesity is a risk factor for various types of cancer and for other chronic diseases and conditions such as type II diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Obesity prevalence in the United States has risen substantially in the last 50 years, particularly since the early 1980s. Experiences with tobacco control and other public health initiatives suggest that public policy may be a powerful tool to improve diet and physical activity behavior at the population level.

The Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch (RFMMB) supports various initiatives in obesity policy research, including:

  • Promoting research on diet and physical activity that may inform policymaking at local, state or federal levels.
  • A workshop was held in 2012 for the principal investigators of active obesity policy research-related grants. The purpose of the meeting was to increase productivity and promote cross-fertilization among these grantees by identifying common issues, challenges, themes and opportunities for collaboration. A workshop summary report will be forthcoming.
    A workshop was held in June, 2007 on considerations for an obesity policy research agenda. A summary paper from the workshop is available.
  • Measurement of the food and physical activity environments.
  • Robust measures of the food and built environments are required both to enhance our understanding of the causes of variation in diet, physical activity and weight and to form the foundation of research to inform policy. A workshop was held in November, 2007 to assess the state of the science of these environmental measures, examine knowledge gained from research using measurement instruments and methodologies, and define gaps and priorities for future work. A journal supplement from the proceedings of the workshop is available. A searchable, web-based compilation of the peer-reviewed literature measuring the food environment and collection of existing instruments is also available.


Last Modified: 10 Mar 2014