Childhood obesity research collaboration welcomes USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has joined the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), a public-private research collaboration to accelerate progress on preventing and reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) launched NCCOR in February 2009.

“As a leader in studying the role of foods and nutrition in childhood obesity, USDA can strengthen this collaboration and add valuable knowledge and considerable resources to combat this epidemic,” Vilsack said. “USDA welcomes this important opportunity for a dynamic research partnership that exemplifies President Obama’s vision of federal and nonprofit leaders working together to improve the health of all Americans.”

Through the Office of the Chief Scientist, USDA will coordinate its research programs with NIH, CDC and RWJF to ensure effective and efficient use of resources for solving the childhood obesity epidemic.

The announcement continues the commitment of the Obama Administration to address childhood obesity within a generation and follows the launch of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. The Let’s Move! campaign will combat the epidemic of childhood obesity through a comprehensive approach that builds on effective strategies, and mobilizes public and private sector resources. The Collaborative – and USDA’s new commitment to it – exemplifies the Administration’s vision – federal and non-profit leaders on health, physical activity, and foods/nutrition working together for the good of the American people.

“NCCOR is a positive example of how federal agencies are working with each other and with private funders to bring synergy and innovation to efforts to address childhood obesity,” said Senior Scientist C. Tracy Orleans, RWJF’s distinguished fellow and a founding NCCOR member. “NCCOR welcomes USDA to the table,” she added.

“Integrating USDA representatives’ expertise will benefit the projects we’re moving forward on, such as our registry of measures and webinar series, as well as our future strategic planning,” said Senior Scientist Laura Kettel Khan, who works within CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, and is a founding NCCOR member.

In addition to joining NCCOR, other USDA research efforts to reduce childhood obesity include:

  • The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will fund approximately $25 million in competitive research grants in 2010 that focus on childhood obesity prevention.
  • The Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Human Nutrition Research Program annually commits approximately $28 million to obesity prevention research, and two internationally recognized ARS research centers focus on children’s nutrition with an emphasis on childhood obesity prevention.
  • The Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released the Food Environment Atlas (an online mapping tool) and the Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 report.

NCCOR is motivated by a sense of urgency to reverse the tide of childhood obesity, especially in those populations and communities at highest risk, and strives to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and application of research findings on childhood obesity by building upon member organizations’ strengths. Efforts are focused on strengthening the nation’s research tools and infrastructure, discovering what works and communicating and spreading effective interventions more rapidly. For more information about NCCOR, please visit

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