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    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent $830 million funding obesity studies in fiscal year 2011. Between 2008 and 2011, NIH spent over $3.3 billion on obesity research. Spending on obesity research also overshadows many other areas of research funded by NIH, including research on Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and breast cancer, which received $448 million, $437 million and $715 million in 2011, respectively. “Obesity is a very is a very significant cause of current illness in our country and becoming more significant all the time,” said Dr. Francis Collins, NIH director. Because of the rise in obesity, NIH established the Obesity Research Task Force in 2003 and came out with its first Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research in 2004. The plan aims “to serve as a guide to accelerate research that will lessen the personal and public health burdens of obesity” with the help of input of external experts, industry professionals, and health-focused organizations through a public comment period. It also “encompasses all levels of research, from basic biological and behavioral research through community and population research.” “The strategic plan is rather sweeping in its set of goals, going all the way from basic science understanding of what are those signals that actually trigger hunger and satiety,” Collins said. “It focuses quite heavily then on interventions. How do you design trials with creative new ideas about how to prevent or treat obesity, and then once you’ve identified possible strategies, how do you develop an approach to find out if they work in the real world.”
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