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Prevention of Obesity and Related Diseases 

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: Human Nutrition Research Priorities
: David Klurfeld506 31 Aug 2012
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We need to understand the causes and consequences of obesity and related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and chronic inflammation. We will develop and evaluate strategies to prevent obesity and related diseases. We will generate new information on both behavior and biology related to obesity prevention.

1) Katherine Sharpless17 (04 Sep 2012)
This seems like an NIH project rather than USDA's.
2) Martha Belury18 (05 Sep 2012)
The NIH is already doing this. Why repeat that they can fund?
3) Marianne Gillette15 (05 Sep 2012)
Behavior is critical, and least understood.
4) Linda Meyers9 (17 Sep 2012)
ARS is uniquely position to explore issues relating to food, food behavior and obesity.
5) Mark Haub15 (20 Sep 2012)
I favor investigating community interventions addressing the related conditions (heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, pulmonary health, etc), but study the effects in all of us. The use of obesity as the surrogate outcome for those conditions will not lead to fully understanding issues of chronic disease as those diseases affect non-obese, too - yes, typically to a lesser extent, but outcome is similar if not worse (e.g., obesity paradox).
6) Elizabeth Pivonka26 (20 Sep 2012)
Nobody is doing enough to understand how to change behavior. ERS is doing great work in the area of behavior change in schools but more research is needed to understand the role supermarkets, for example, can play in changing diet behavior. Fruits/veggies are profitable for retailers; roughly 85% of fruits/veggies are consumed at home vs. restaurants (e.g. purchased from stores); and consumers agree that stores represent one of the top ways they learn about food. SNAP and WIC are redeemed there. Healthy Incentives Pilot is underway. NuVal/Guiding Stars are not perfect (peaches in light syrup score worse than brownies in the NuVal system), yet no FDA front of pack program has been proposed. Research to guide FDA would be helpful. In light of all the federal dollars spent on SNAP alone ($80 billion?), and $2 billion of it spent on sweetened beverages, more needs to be done in this arena.
7) Johanna Dwyer40 (24 Sep 2012)
In my view this is something that might be better based in ERS or FNS with funds coming from those operating units of USDA. They are important questions for someone to answer, but not sure it is ARS that is best equipped to do so either now or in the midrange future. Perhaps NIH or other agencies with larger budgets.
8) Jordi Serratosa17 (02 Oct 2012)
If CDC statistics are correct (36% in US) obesity is the main problem to be tackled in a short term. No action will lead to increase in health expenditure and reduce national productivity, both are essential for the country development specially in these critical moments. No single agency or department will be able to manage and understand the critical factors that lead to obesity. I applaud this project but not in isolation but as a part of wider and more ambitious project, in coordination with Health, trade, Industry, Science, Nutrition, rural development, etc

9) Jean Buzby9 (04 Oct 2012)
Understanding consumer behavior as it relates to food choices is helpful in identifying the nudges and healthy defaults that can entice consumers to select and eat healthy foods.
10) Kevin Miller12 (11 Oct 2012)
A great deal of science has focused on the physiological mechanisms of how people become obese and the health consequences. The USDA may be in a better position than other agencies to study and understand eating occasions. Obesity is not only about what foods people eat, but how and where foods are eaten.
11) Paul Paulsen18 (11 Oct 2012)
Two key issues facing Americans today are obesity and food affordability. Both are addressed through the consumption of healthy meat products that combine both lean meat and vegetable proteins.

The combination of lean meat and vegetable proteins follow dietary guidelines for increased consumption of a variety of protein foods, are lower in fat, cholesterol and calories and are more affordable versus their nutritionally equivalent counterparts. Developments in technology have resulted in advancement in sensory experiences, making these alternatives more acceptable to the general population.

Consumers are unaware of healthy meat and vegetable protein alternatives. Promoting these alternatives, based on consumer research, is needed to address obesity and affordability. At the same time, two important agricultural streams are better utilized.
12) Elaine Krul6 (11 Oct 2012)
In September 2011, governments of the United Nations proclaimed that the spread of non-communicable diseases was a challenge of “epidemic proportions,” and they pledged to adopt targets to combat heart disease, cancers, diabetes and lung disease before the end of 2012. This would involve policies that cut smoking and slash the high salt, sugar and fat content in foods that contributed to these “lifestyle” diseases. Interestingly, there are no clear answers as to exactly how to set policies, as more research is needed to identify “best practices” moving forward. Diet and exercise are the underpinnings of any successful policies, but addressing the challenges of how to modify behavior and lifestyle are critical for policies to be adopted. No one organization should nor can be solely responsible for addressing this major health issue; efforts should be made for organizations to support each other with research on a global basis and implement policies that work on a local basis.
13) Kelly Olson9 (14 Oct 2012)
Research is needed on how to boost satiety, thereby reducing total caloric intake. Barley feeding studies show great promise in boosting satiety - more research is needed.
14) Sarah Ohlhorst14 (15 Oct 2012)
ARS is positioned to promote research that will clarify how the current farm-to-fork food system influences dietary patterns and behaviors, and how the food chain/system can be altered to best promote healthy behaviors and improve public health.

Research plays a crucial role in determining how industry, agriculture, government, and other stakeholders can best promote improved food security and nutrition. The use of public/private partnerships can move nutrition research forward and allow us to better understand how all stakeholders can work together to make meaningful changes to the American diet.
15) Sarah Ohlhorst14 (15 Oct 2012)
Research is also needed to examine the use of a systems approach to achieve energy balance including and integrating environmental, biological, psycho-social, and food system factors.
16) Janice Rueda12 (15 Oct 2012)
Pulse crops (dry beans, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas) are cost-effective, rich sources of many USDA-identified nutrients of concern, including fiber, iron, potassium and magnesium, yet research on their efficacy in reducing obesity (through satiety or other mechanisms) and ameliorating risk of chronic diseases is scant. As many other posters have noted, nutrition research influences the extent to which foods are utilized and consumed, and increased nutrition research on pulse crops holds the potential to fill critical research gaps that could affect consumer food choices and positively impact the quality of the American diet.
17) Sarah Levy12 (15 Oct 2012)
Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) comment: Obesity is a multifactorial condition, and available data suggest that effectively reducing current rates of overweight and obesity, and preventing future incidence of chronic disease requires a comprehensive approach. This approach includes increased consumer understanding and adoption of recommended amounts of physical activity and total caloric intake (energy balance), along with a total diet approach to eating that promotes healthy consumer choices, behaviors, and lifestyles. Previous efforts focusing solely on reducing or replacing a particular nutrient or ingredient in the diet have been unsuccessful in achieving these broader health outcomes, as this narrow focus is unlikely to provide the comprehensive strategies needed to reduce obesity. Clearly, additional research is required to identify interventions that will produce the desired improvement in public health.

Ultimately, environmental changes and improvements made by the food industry and public health sectors are dependent on consumer action for their success in decreasing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Therefore, additional research is needed to identify effective behavior change motivation and consumer communication strategies. In addition, research to better understand the nutritional etiology (including behavioral and biologic causes) of obesity and related chronic diseases is needed for the development of a public health framework that will help prevent and treat these diseases.