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Collaboration accelerating progress on childhood obesity

February 2010, NCCOR

February marks the one-year anniversary of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), a public-private collaboration to accelerate progress on reversing the epidemic of overweight and obesity among U.S. youth.

NCCOR was launched in February 2009 at the start of the Obama administration, and brings together three of the nation’s leading research funders – the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The Collaborative 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. It also places special emphasis on the populations and communities in which obesity rates are the highest: African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and children living in low-income communities.

One year prior to launching, CDC, NIH and RWJF discussed their respective research, practice, and funding priorities in an effort to identify common goals and determine how each organization could benefit and complement the other. The planning committee gained support for forming a collaborative from various CDC divisions, NIH centers, and RWJF by stressing that NCCOR would improve the science behind obesity prevention, as well as information sharing.

Grounded by a group of passionate, committed leaders in the field, NCCOR was formed to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and application of childhood obesity research through enhanced coordination and collaboration.

“It’s been stunning seeing firsthand the impact that NCCOR members can have by jointly pursuing goals to make progress more quickly,” said Todd Phillips, the director of the NCCOR Coordinating Center.

Indeed, NCCOR is a unique 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. The Collaborative will grow in 2010 with the planned addition of the United States Department of Agriculture, a government leader on foods, nutrition, and obesity prevention.

Continuously evolving and building on each other’s strengths, the CDC, NIH, and RWJF are advancing the field through complementary and joint projects begun in the past year. Projects aim to evaluate new and existing prevention approaches, rapidly assess promising policy changes, and accelerate the application of interventions that work.

Priority areas

NCCOR focuses its efforts on projects to meet four areas of need related to strengthening nation’s research tools and infrastructure, discovering “what works,” and communicating and spreading effective interventions more rapidly. Within each area, NCCOR members are committed to a variety of projects. A few examples include:

  • Establishing a web-based registry of valid and reliable measures to assess independent, dependent, and key moderating variables in childhood obesity prevention research
  • Coordinating computational and statistical modeling efforts to elucidate the complexity of the childhood obesity problem and to forecast the impact of public health policies and interventions on childhood obesity on a population-wide level and among specific subpopulations
  • Supporting two program announcements by NIH that call for policy-relevant research
  • Cosponsoring two webinars with the RWJF Center in 2010, and jointly sponsoring six webinars with NCI addressing physical activity measures and methods

Funding

NCCOR members have jointly funded more than $40 million in projects progressing NCCOR’s mission. NCCOR members also provide significant staff scientific expertise to develop and implement the agenda.

In addition to funding projects, the CDC, NIH, and RWJF jointly committed almost $3 million to co-fund an NCCOR coordinating center for an initial three years. The Coordinating Center provides critical substantive support for NCCOR by conducting strategic planning, developing fundamental research tools (e.g., Measures Registry and Catalogue of Surveillance Systems), convening members, evaluating NCCOR benchmarks, and providing core communication and administrative activities.

For more information on the Collaborative’s mission, priority areas and projects, please consult www.nccor.org.