Obesity is the result of a complex interplay of many factors including genes, metabolism, behavior, environment, and policy. Effective strategies for preventing and treating obesity must, therefore, encompass a broad program of research topics and disciplines. They also must use new and innovative approaches that foster the ability of investigators to conduct this important research. NCI strives to facilitate and accelerate progress in obesity research to improve public health.
Fact sheet: Obesity and Cancer Risk
This fact sheet discusses definitions and measurement of obesity as well as its prevalence and its epidemiologic relationship to particular cancer types. The fact sheet also summarizes NCI-funded initiatives and resources that have a focus on obesity.
Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)
HINTS collects nationally representative data about how American adults access and use health information, how they use information technology to manage health and health information, and the degree to which they are engaged in healthy behaviors. HINTS has included energy balance survey items in 2003, 2005, 2007 and the current iteration of HINTS (being fielded 2011-2014). Specifically, HINTS includes survey items that allow researchers to explore questions related to nutrition, physical activity, weight and body mass index (BMI).
Food, Activity, Sleep, Sun-Safety, and Tobacco Behaviors (FASST)
FASST is a one-time survey that is evaluating factors associated with obesogenic and cancer preventive behaviors (mainly diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors) among parent-adolescent dyads. The objectives of the study are to: examine associations between neighborhood/community environments, home, psychosocial, intrapersonal factors, and other behaviors (e.g., sleep, sun-safety, tobacco use) and obesogenic behaviors; examine the role of relationships in the home in obesogenic behaviors. Data from the survey are currently being analyzed.
Healthy Communities Study (HCS)
The HCS is a five-year (2010–2015) observational study of communities to assess the relationships between programs and policies targeting childhood obesity and children’s Body Mass Index (BMI), diet, and physical activity. The purpose of the study is to support a nationwide scientific assessment of community-level efforts to identify characteristics of community programs and policies that may help reduce childhood obesity rates. NCI staff provide scientific expertise on the HCS Steering Committee.
A product of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), this web-based portfolio of more than 900 measures related to diet and physical activity allows researchers to more efficiently find and select measures that are critical to accelerating obesity prevention research. It also will help spur the use of comparable, core measures. NCI staff led the development of the Measures Registry.
Catalogue of Surveillance Systems
This free online resource, which is a product of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR), helps researchers and practitioners more easily investigate childhood obesity in America. The Catalogue provides one-stop access for users to review, sort, and compare more than 90 surveillance systems relevant to childhood obesity research and the evaluation of policy and environmental interventions. NCI staff led the development of the Catalogue.
National Survey of Energy Balance-related Care Among Primary Care Physicians
This survey is designed to obtain current, nationally representative data on primary care physicians' characteristics, knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to services for diet, physical activity, and weight control. The goal is to develop a national baseline on the use of energy balance risk assessment, counseling and referral services in physician practice and to identify the characteristics of physicians who routinely incorporate these activities in patient care.
Food Attitudes & Behaviors Survey
The purpose of the Food Attitudes and Behaviors (FAB) Survey is to evaluate a variety of factors including knowledge of fruits and vegetables (FV), psychosocial factors, as well as other variables that may be related to fruit and vegetable consumption. Conventional constructs included self-efficacy, barriers, social support, and knowledge of recommendations related to FV consumption. Novel constructs included shopping patterns, taste preferences, views on vegetarianism, intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, and environmental influences.
Classification of Laws Associated with School Studies (C.L.A.S.S.)
The C.L.A.S.S. website uses two policy classification systems to score state-level codified laws for physical education and nutrition in schools. The scoring criteria are based on current public health research and national recommendations and standards for physical education and nutrition in schools. C.L.A.S.S. data, available on the website, can be used to: 1) compare codified state laws in nutrition and physical education to national standards; 2) assess differences in codified state laws in nutrition and physical education across states over time.
State Physical Education and Recess and School Nutrition Environment Policy Classification Systems and Data
The NCI, working with expert consultants including staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and through contracts with The MayaTech Corporation, developed two systems for classifying state level physical education and recess and school nutrition environment-related policies. This website provides access to the baseline 2003 data and the code books, copies of the policy classification systems, and citations for manuscripts that describe the classification system development process.
Automated Self-administered 24-hour Dietary Recall (ASA24™)
ASA24 is a software tool that enables automated and self-administered 24-hour dietary recalls. The format and design of ASA24 are based on a modified version of the interviewer-administered Automated Multiple Pass Method (AMPM) 24-hour recall developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). ASA24 consists of a Respondent Website used by study participants to enter recall data and a Researcher Website used by researchers to manage study logistics and obtain analyses. A children’s version of the tool, ASA24™-Kids, became available in 2012.
Short Dietary Assessment Instruments
Short dietary assessment instruments, often called screeners, may be useful in situations that do not require assessment of the total diet or quantitative accuracy in dietary estimates. Recognizing the need for these tools, the NCI Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch has developed several short instruments that assess intake of fruits and vegetables, percentage energy from fat, fiber, added sugars, whole grains, calcium, dairy products, and red and processed meats.
Usual Dietary Intakes – the NCI Method of Estimation
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and elsewhere have developed a method to estimate usual dietary intakes of foods and nutrients. This method can be used to:
- Estimate the distribution of usual intake for a population or subpopulation
- Assess the effects of individual covariates on consumption
- Predict individual intake for use in a model to assess the relationship between diet and disease or other variable
Measures of the Food Environment Website
This website provides a compilation of articles that include community-level measures of the food environment, as well as some of the instruments themselves. The food environment is defined to include food stores, restaurants, schools, and worksites. The goal of the website is to enable access to existing measures of the food environment and stimulate the development of the next generation of tools.
Standardized Questionnaires of Walking and Bicycling Database Website
This database contains questionnaire items and a list of validation studies for standardized items concerning walking and biking from multiple national and international physical activity questionnaires (PAQs). The purpose of this database is to provide easy access to a large number of items assessing duration and frequency of walking and bicycling in the non-disabled adult population. In addition, the results of validation studies for some of the PAQs are reviewed.
National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) Web Tutorials
NCI has partnered with the CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) to devlop web-based tutorials to promote broader and more proficient use of NHANES data. The tutorials are designed for a wide range of NHANES users. NCI led the development of the dietary tutorial and the physical activity and cardiovascular fitness tutorial.
SAS Programs to Analyze NHANES Accelerometer Data
This website provides SAS code for analyzing Physical Activity Monitor (PAM) data from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Eating and Health Module of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS)
Applied Research Program's American Time Use Survey
Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey
The ATUS, conducted by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, collects information on how Americans spend their time on work, household chores, child care, recreation and other activities. The NCI Applied Research Program has provided funds to the US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service to support the Eating and Health Module of the ATUS. This module includes questions concerning height, weight, incidental eating, and related questions. NCI staff members are analyzing time use data to explore the social and environmental context of physical activity and relationships between body mass index and time use variables. The NCI website listed above includes tables of metabolic equivalent values for activities in the ATUS.
Healthy Eating Index (HEI)
The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a measure of diet quality, independent of quantity, that can be used to assess compliance with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and monitor changes in dietary patterns nationwide. It also is a valuable tool for epidemiologic and economic research and can be used in nutrition interventions and consumer nutrition education programs. Staff in NCI's Applied Research Program and USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion collaborated to revise the HEI, and a new version, the HEI-2010, was released in February 2013.
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans – Funding Opportunities and Research Resources for Researchers
In 2008, the Federal Government issued its first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. They describe the types and amounts of physical activity that offer substantial health benefits to Americans. Accompanying the guidelines is an Advisory Committee Report that reviewed existing scientific literature to identify evidence to develop the physical activity recommendations. This website presents the Research Recommendations from the Advisory Committee Report. For each topic area, relevant NCI and NIH funding opportunities are highlighted for researchers who wish to explore these remaining gaps in the scientific evidence. Also listed are links to information about surveys, databases, and other NCI and NIH research resources that could help answer specific research questions under several of the topic areas. Also available on the website is a link to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Midcourse Report, which was released in 2013.
California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)
CHIS is a continuous telephone survey that provides population-based, standardized health-related data for adults and children in every county. CHIS provides information including: health status; prevalence and management of chronic diseases; diet and exercise, tobacco use, and sun exposure;health insurance coverage; access and barriers to health services; and eligibility for and participation in state health programs. The health and health care needs of racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse population groups are an important focus of the survey. NCI provides support for CHIS to field cancer control questions covering risk factors, screening behaviors, and diagnosis.
National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplement
NHIS is a continuous, nationwide in-person survey of approximately 35,000 households in the civilian non-institutionalized population. NHIS serves as the main source of data on health and has been used to monitor health patterns and trends and track progress toward national goals. It is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is administered by the US Census Bureau. NCI periodically co-sponsors a Cancer Control Supplement (CCS) to the NHIS.
Physical Activities Completed over Time in 24 Hours (ACT-24)
Activities Completed over Time in 24 Hours (ACT24) is a web-based physical activity evaluation tool developed by the NCI where particpants can enter the activities they engaged in during the previous day. The tool will be employed in future NIH-AARP Diet and Health Studies as well as in other cohorts to improve our understanding of physical activity and disease.
Policy Evaluation Webinar Series
In cooperation with NCCOR, staff in NCI’s Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch (RFMMB) organized a four-part webinar series that aimed to increase the skills of researchers and practitioners in policy evaluation effectiveness. Increasingly, policies are being implemented at state and local levels that are intended to reduce obesity prevalence by improving diet and/or increasing physical activity. Rigorous evaluation of these “natural experiments” may be an effective means for the research community to inform policy on the issues of obesity, diet, and activity.
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genomics (DCEG) Questionnaires
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genomics (DCEG) Publications on Energy Balance, Obesity, and BMI
Search the “Title” field for “obesity, BMI, or energy”