More than a third of adults and nearly 17% of children in the United States are obese, increasing their chances of developing health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease and some cancers.
"This plan is a bold blueprint that will encourage the research community to examine the epidemic of obesity from diverse perspectives," National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins said in a statement.
The NIH spent $971 million in fiscal year 2010 on obesity research, with $147 million of that in one-time stimulus funds.
Under the plan, NIH will fund studies to test new ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight in real-world settings and diverse populations.
It also will focus on understanding biological processes that regulate weight, and factors that contribute to obesity and the health issues it causes.
Obesity-related diseases account for nearly 10% of U.S. medical spending, or an estimated $147 billion a year.
Studies have shown that obese children are more likely to stay obese as adults, and that they develop chronic conditions at younger ages, burdening the healthcare system.