Testimony before the House of Representatives Committee On Appropriations Subcommittee On Labor, Health And Human Services, Education And Related Agencies
May 2, 2002; 9:00 AM.
Michael D. Jensen, MD, President
North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO)
8630 Fenton St. Suite 412
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Obesity is quickly becoming the leading health care problem in the United States. It is a complex disease that involves genetic, metabolic, behavioral, environmental factors. The increased prevalence and causal relationship with serious medical complications have considerable health and economic consequences for our country. Increasing research for understanding, preventing and treating obesity will decrease the prevalence of costly obesity related diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease, and ultimately result in considerable financial savings.
Despite the increase in research dollars over recent years, funding for obesity research is not commensurate with the scope of this public health crisis. Obesity is the number two preventable cause of death for Americans, yet the NIH currently plans on allocating only one percent of its total budget to obesity research. NAASO feels strongly that this is inconsistent with the scope of the problem. Obesity results in more than 300,000 lost lives each year. Currently, more than $61 billion/year is spent on obesity-related health care expenses. It is estimated that another $40 billion/year is lost because of obesity-related absenteeism and decreased work productivity.
Research supported by the NIH has made a major impact on the health of Americans. The time has come for the NIH to provide a major research focus on obesity. NAASO urges this committee to double the amount spent on obesity research. 2% for the number two health problem in America is not too much to ask.
For 2003, NAASO urges the committee to:
- Allocate 2% of biomedical research to the number two health problem in America—including increased funding for:
- Research to increase our understanding of the basic biology of obesity,
- Translational research to enhance the application of successful strategies to control body weight,
- Research directly addressing how environmental behavior, and lifestyle factors can be altered to prevent obesity, particularly in children.
- Support prevention programs by providing:
- $60 million in support of CDC's request for obesity programs;
- Full funding for the CDC's Youth Media Campaign at $125 million; and,
- Fully fund and increase the number of Obesity/Nutrition Research Centers and Clinical Nutrition Research Units.