About Us

Keeping The Nation Healthy and Strong

CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) leads our nation’s public health efforts to prevent chronic diseases at every stage of life by promoting good nutrition, regular physical activity, and a healthy weight. We work in places where people live, learn, work, and play.

DNPAO is also dedicated to removing barriers to health linked to race or ethnicity, ability, education, income, location, or other factors. These efforts help all people live healthier lives and avoid chronic diseases.

Why It Matters

Poor nutrition and physical inactivity are significant risk factors for obesity and other chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and depression. Chronic diseases can also lead to disabilities and premature deaths.

  • Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants, however, 3 in 4 infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months.
  • Fewer than 1 in 10 US adolescents and adults eat enough fruits and vegetables.
  • More than 3 in 4 adults do not fully meet the physical activity guidelines to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases.
  •  42% of US adults have obesity.

In many cases, chronic diseases and their risk factors are more common in some groups in the United States than others. For example, when considering race/ethnicity,

  • The prevalence of physical inactivity outside of work was highest among Hispanic adults (32%), followed by non-Hispanic Black (30%), non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (29%), non-Hispanic White (23%), and non-Hispanic Asian adults (20%).
  • The prevalence of obesity was highest among non-Hispanic Black adults (50%), followed by Hispanic (46%), non-Hispanic White (41%), and non-Hispanic Asian adults (16%).
  • Fewer non-Hispanic Black infants (76%) are ever breastfed compared with Asian infants (92%), non-Hispanic White infants (85%) and Hispanic infants (85%).

Our Focus

DNPAO focuses on improving nutrition, supporting breastfeeding, increasing physical activity, reducing obesity, and achieving health equity by reducing disparities. Disparities are differences in health status or access to health care across different geographic, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. We support state and community partners by providing data, programs that work, and practical tools.

With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $115.6 million, we:

  • Measure and report trends in breastfeeding, nutrition, physical activity, and obesity at national, state, and territorial levels and for specific populations.
  • Study interventions to identify the best ways to create healthier environments in early care and education (ECE) facilities, worksites, hospitals, and communities.
  • Fund and help guide states, universities, and other community, national, and global partners to use programs that work.
  • Share information to help decision makers understand how to create environments that support healthy eating and active living at the community level.

Also see our what we do and applied research.

Our Priority Strategies

Our five priority strategies are to:

  • Make physical activity safe and accessible for all.
  • Make healthy food choices easier everywhere with food service and nutrition guidelines and fruit and vegetable voucher incentives and produce prescriptions.
  • Make breastfeeding easier to start and continue.
  • Strengthen obesity prevention standards for early care and education settings.
  • Increase number of and access to family healthy weight programs.

Our Leadership

  • Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH
    DNPAO Director
  • Rose Wang, MPH
    Deputy Division Director
  • Janelle Gunn, MPH
    Associate Director of Policy, Partnership and Communication
  • Deborah Galuska, PhD
    Associate Director of Science
  • Rafael Flores-Ayala, DrPH
    Chief, Nutrition Branch
  • Ken Rose, MPA
    Chief, Physical Activity and Health Branch
  • Captain Heidi Blanck, PhD
    Chief, Obesity Prevention and Control Branch
  • Terry O’Toole, PhD
    Chief, Program Development and Evaluation Branch

More Information

Connect with Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity