The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it is committing almost $30 million in new funding to support innovative public health research aimed at further promoting and protecting the health of Americans, with an immediate focus on producing a body of evidence that will help employers make better choices in wellness programs.
The CDC’s new Health Protection Research Initiative aims to strengthen public health research by encouraging more individuals and institutions to engage in research that will result in measurable improvements in public health. The availability of funds was published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on April 23, 2004.
The first element of this new research initiative targets projects that will provide employers with the evidence they need to promote the health of their workforce. CDC has found employers need more science-based evidence to choose the best options among various benefit programs and workplace health promotion programs. This part of the new initiative is not intended to address occupational health and safety issues but to focus on broad health promotion.
CDC expects projects designed to affect health in the workplace will have a positive economic and health impact. For example, with more than 60 percent of U.S. adults being overweight or obese, the direct and indirect costs of diabetes were estimated at nearly $132 billion in 2002, and annual U.S. medical expenditures attributed to obesity are estimated at $93 billion in 2002 dollars. The economic cost of obesity to business, including health, life and disability insurance and paid sick leave by private sector firms was estimated to be at least $15.4 billion in 2002.
For this purpose CDC will dedicate up to $14 million to support 20 to 40 grants. Grant applications will go through an external peer-review process to gauge their effectiveness in responding to the intent of the research initiative. Applications are open to researchers affiliated with public or private academic or research institutions, eligible agencies of the federal government, units of state or local government, and health care organizations.