About Us

Protecting the Health of Americans by Increasing Physical Activity and Good Nutrition and Promoting a Healthy Weight

CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) protects the health of Americans at every stage of life by encouraging regular physical activity, good nutrition, and healthy weight. Through our support of state and community partners, we provide data, programs that work, and practical tools so that Americans have the best possible chance to achieve healthier lives and avoid chronic diseases. These efforts have contributed to more adults meeting national guidelines for physical activity and more babies being born in hospitals that follow global standards for supporting breastfeeding.

DNPAO: At A Glance 2019

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DNPAO: At a Glance

Why It Matters
Poor nutrition and inadequate physical activity are significant risk factors for obesity and other chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and depression. Fewer than 1 in 10 children and adults eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables. Only half of adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases, and more than 93 million have obesity. During 1999–2016, obesity prevalence increased from 31% to 40% for adults and from 13.9% to 18.5% for children.

What We Do
With an FY 2019 budget of $103.8 million, DNPAO focuses on improving nutrition, supporting breastfeeding, increasing physical activity, reducing obesity, and reducing disparities, which are differences in health status or access to health care across different geographic, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. To meet these goals, DNPAO works to:

  • 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 improve their communities to support healthy eating and active living.
Cover: Nutrition FactsheetNutrition Fact Sheet
This fact sheet describes how DNPAO’s nutrition efforts support public health strategies and programs across the nation.

Cover: Physical Activity Factsheet Physical Activity Infographic
This infographic provides an overview of how DNPAO promotes increased access to safe and convenient places and opportunities for people to be physically active.

Cover: Obesity FactsheetObesity Fact Sheetpdf icon [PDF-1.66MB]
This fact sheet highlights DNPAO’s focus on evidence-based strategies to make healthy eating and active living accessible and affordable for all Americans.

About BreastfeedingBreastfeeding Infographic
This infographic focuses on DNPAO’s work to support and promote breastfeeding through improved hospital practices, policies, and supports in the workplace and access to community supports.

Acting Early to Prevent ObesityActing Early to Prevent Obesitypdf icon [PDF-2.06MB]
This fact sheet describes how DNPAO and Nemours are working together with state and local partners to support proven obesity prevention strategies in the Early Care and Education (ECE) setting.

Active People, Healthy Nation<sup>SM</sup> At-a-GlanceActive People, Healthy NationSM At-a-Glancepdf icon [PDF-1.36MB]
This At-a-Glance shows how inadequate physical activity affects our nation’s health and economy. Read about how increased physical activity can offer health, economic, safety, and community benefits.

Active People, Healthy Nation<sup>SM</sup>—Role of Public HealthActive People, Healthy NationSM—Role of Public Healthpdf icon [PDF-1.38MB]
This fact sheet details the five Active People, Healthy NationSM action steps to help 27 million Americans become more physically active.

CDC’s Work to Reduce Childhood Obesity by Connecting Families, Clinics, and CommunitiesCDC’s Work to Reduce Childhood Obesity by Connecting Families, Clinics, and Communitiespdf icon [PDF-2.44MB]
This infographic outlines the impacts of childhood obesity, and describes why the health system is an ideal place to prevent and manage childhood obesity. It describes the obesity-related work DNPAO’s healthcare team does in this field.

Helping Young Children Thrive: Healthy Practices in the ECE SettingHelping Young Children Thrive: Healthy Practices in the ECE Settingpdf icon [PDF-1.91MB]
This infographic describes why Early Care and Education (ECE) facilities are ideal places to encourage healthy habits tied to food and physical activity for children aged 2-5.

Unfit to Serve: Obesity is Impacting National SecurityUnfit to Serve: Obesity is Impacting National Securitypdf icon [PDF-1.03MB]
This infographic outlines the effects obesity has on our nation’s military readiness. It also emphasizes the many health and performance benefits increased physical activity and healthy eating can offer to current and future service members.

DNPAO’s activities aim to achieve three goals related to risk factors for illness, disability, and premature death.

  • Improve dietary quality to support healthy child development and reduce chronic disease
  • Increase health-related physical activity for people of all ages
  • Decrease prevalence of obesity through prevention of weight gain and maintenance of healthy weight

  • National leadership
  • Surveillance
  • Applied research
  • Evaluation
  • Program development and technical assistance
  • Promote evidence-based practice
  • Training
  • Partnership development
  • Policy analysis
  • Communication and media relations

  • Strengthen public health capacity to promote healthy eating and physical activity
  • Increase breastfeeding support
  • Improve child care environments
  • Promote food service guidelines
  • Increase healthy food and beverage purchases
  • Promote healthy foods and beverages in K-12 (with DPH)
  • Support healthy diets through micronutrient fortification and supplementation
  • Increase physical activity in worksites
  • Make communities more walkable

  • Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH
    Director
  • Ann O’Connor, MPA
    Deputy Director
  • Deborah Galuska, PhD
    Assoc. Director of Science
  • Janelle Gunn, MPH
    Assoc. Director of Policy, Partnership and Communication
  • Terry O’Toole, PhD
    Chief, Program Development and Evaluation Branch
  • Rafael Flores-Ayala, DrPH
    Chief, Nutrition Branch
  • Janet Fulton, PhD
    Chief, Physical Activity and Health Branch
  • Captain Heidi Blanck, PhD
    Chief, Obesity Prevention and Control Branch

Young girl holding basket of vegetables

DNPAO promotes healthy food and activity choices through environments that ensure the availability of free, good-tasting water, safe locations for physical activity, and healthier foods including affordable fruits and vegetables. Additionally, DNPAO promotes breastfeeding and helps reduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies that affect nearly one-third of the world’s population.

Disparities in physical activity, nutrition and obesity are well documented, and DNPAO works to achieve optimal health for all population groups including those most impacted by chronic diseases.