About Us

Keeping Americans Healthy and Strong Through Every Stage of Life

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

Why It Matters

Poor nutrition and inadequate physical activity are significant risk factors for chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and depression. Chronic diseases can also lead to disabilities and premature deaths.  In many cases, chronic diseases are more common in some groups than others.

  • Fewer than 1 in 10 US children and adults eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables.
  • Only half of US adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases, and more than 93 million have obesity.
  • Among US adults, the prevalence of both obesity and severe obesity was highest in non-Hispanic black adults compared with other race and Hispanic-origin groups.
  • Fewer non-Hispanic Black infants (74.0%) are ever breastfed compared with non-Hispanic White infants (86.6%) and Hispanic infants (82.9%).

What We Do

We support state and community partners by providing data, programs that work, and practical tools. Together we work to improve nutrition, support breastfeeding, increase physical activity, and reduce the prevalence of obesity through treatment and prevention. We also address disparities, which are differences in health status or access to health care across different geographic, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $108.9 million, we:

  • Provide funding and technical assistance to increase recipient and partner capacity to implement, evaluate, and scale up program activities at state and local levels.
  • Facilitate partnerships to develop, harmonize, or operationalize interventions, research, guidance, and policies.
  • Conduct surveillance and research to support health policy, program, and guideline development.
  • Share communication messages with specific audiences to promote priorities, support program efforts, and convey consistent messages, activities, and successes.

Also see our priorities and applied research.

Our Goals

We aim to achieve three goals related to risk factors for illness, disability, and premature death:

  • Improve nutrition to support healthy child development and reduce chronic disease.
  • Increase physical activity for people of all ages.
  • Decrease prevalence of obesity through prevention of weight gain and maintenance of healthy weight.

Our Leadership

  • Ruth Petersen, MD, MPH
    DNPAO Director
  • Ann O’Connor, MPA
    Deputy 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
    Acting 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