By Sandy K. Johnson

The federal government is heavily invested in research to try to fix America’s weight problem. The motivation is simple: Obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, cancer and other costly health issues.

Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, talked about recent obesity research with National Press Foundation journalists. The institute is part of the National Institutes of Health.

The battle over fat vs. carbohydrate reduction is one recurring theme of dieting. Rodgers said a recent study shows that an individual who restricts his or her carb calories by 30 percent will lose weight. But an individual who restricts fat calories by the same amount will lose weight and experience a 68 percent reduction in body fat.

Another line of research involves gut microbial bacteria. As Rodgers pointed out, “Every time you eat, you dine with about 100 trillion friends who occupy your digestive tract.” He quipped, “You might want to invest in yogurt,” which is packed with microbes.

Bottom line, Rodgers said, is that research over time shows:

  • The more you exercise, the longer you’re likely to live.
  • The longer your parents live, the longer you’re likely to live.

Uncle Sam offers a way to help you track and lose weight: the NIH Body Weight Planner. And for journalists, Rodgers suggested the NIDDK website: