The ability of modern computers to analyze massive data sets that heretofore were impossible to handle has opened up new vistas in research. Such massive data sets have been named “Big Data”. The International Journal of Obesity strives to identify novel areas for research into obesity and it appears that gleaning information from “Big Data” data sets holds promise to allow identification of questions for more targeted research as well as to directly answer some questions about obesity. There has been a very modest effort to use big data in obesity research to date and most of the questions have regarded identifying genetic loci from genome wide scans that correlate with obesity-related traits. Many types of research will be available using massive data sets, including genetic, biochemical/physiological, clinical, behavioral, economic, and other topics. The Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC) in the United Kingdom funded a Strategic Network for Obesity to address Big Data in obesity research. This issue of IJO contains the first two papers in a series that will discuss the potential role of big data in obesity research and report on analyses that have been carried out by the ERSC Strategic Network for Obesity.