Kelly D. Brownell

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Kelly David Brownell
2016-10-13 174715 Dr. Kelly David Brownell at Harvard Chan School's Stare-Hegsted Lecture 18.jpg
2nd Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy
In office
July 1, 2013 – July 1, 2018
Succeeded byJudith Kelley
Personal details
Born (1951-10-31) October 31, 1951 (age 71)
Indiana, USA
EducationPurdue University (BS)
Rutgers University (MS, PhD)

Kelly David Brownell (born October 31, 1951)[1] is a clinical psychologist and scholar of public health and public policy at Duke University whose work focuses on obesity and food policy. He is a former dean of Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. Noted for his research dealing primarily with obesity prevention, as well as the intersection of behavior, environment, and health with public policy, Brownell advised former First Lady Michelle Obama's initiatives to address childhood obesity[2] and has testified before Congress.[3] He is credited with coining the term "yo-yo dieting",[4] and was named as one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People" by Time Magazine in 2006.[5]

Personal background[edit]

Brownell was born in 1951 and was raised in Indiana. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Purdue University in 1973,[6] he was awarded a Ph.D in Psychology from Rutgers University in 1977.[7] His advisor was Oscar Krisen Buros Professor G. Terence Wilson.

Kelly D. Brownell
Known forResearch in obesity and prevention; food marketing, advertising, and legislation; sugary drink tax laws and legislation; public health policy
AwardsJames McKeen Cattell Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Psychology, New York Academy of Sciences;
Distinguished Alumni Award, Purdue University
Lifetime Achievement Award, American Psychological Association
Scientific career
FieldsPsychology, Epidemiology, Neuroscience, Public Health
InstitutionsDuke University
World Food Policy Center
Sanford School of Public Policy
Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
ThesisThe Effect of Spouse Training and Partner Cooperativeness in the Behavioral Treatment of Obesity[8] (1977)
Doctoral advisorG. Terence Wilson


In 1977, Brownell became a member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school. He began as an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry, was subsequently promoted to associate professor, and finally to full professor. During this period, he also served one year as a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NHI) National Cancer Institute (NCI).[citation needed]

In 1991, he joined Yale University, where he held positions as the James Rowland Angell professor of psychology,[9] professor of epidemiology and public health, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, chair of the department of psychology, and head of the undergraduate dormitory Silliman College.[citation needed]

Brownell left Yale in 2013 to join Duke University as Dean of its Sanford School of Public Policy, in which role he continued until the end of the 2018 academic year.[10] He holds academic appointments as the Robert L. Flowers Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Director of the World Food Policy Center, and is a faculty affiliate of the Duke Global Health Institute.[11]

In 2017, backed by funding from the Duke Endowment, William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Duke University announced the formation of its new World Food Policy Center (WFPC), based at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Brownell is the center's founder and director.[12]

To date, he has authored 15 books and more than 350 scientific articles, papers, and chapters.[13][14] He has also contributed to mainstream media outlets.[15][16]

Brownell was previously president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine;[17] Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy;[18] and American Psychological Association, Division 38: Society for Health Psychology.[19]


Brownell's 1986 paper, Understanding and Preventing Relapse, published in American Psychologist, was recognized at the time as one of the most frequently cited papers in psychology.[20]

Recognized for introducing the idea of food taxes as a means of improving public health in 1994,[21] his work on soda taxes[22] has been used by cities, states, and countries seeking to implement them as a public policy tool and tax revenue strategy.[23] In commentary for Time Magazine's "Time 100 of 2006", former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee commented that Brownell had "helped set the U.S. agenda by calling for a ban on sweetened-cereal ads aimed at kids and a tax on high-fat, low-nutrition food."[24]

Brownell has also influenced popular culture. In addition to having coined the term "yo-yo dieting", he is also credited with introducing the phrase "toxic food environment" in his 2004 book, Food Fight: The Inside Story of the Food Industry.[25] A frequent radio[26] and television guest,[27] he is the host of the Policy 360 podcast, and has appeared in a variety of feature films and documentaries:

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Purdue University, 2001[34]
  • Elected member, Institute of Medicine, 2005[35]
  • Elected member, Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, 2006[36]
  • Research to Practice Dissemination Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2007[37]
  • Graduate School Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Accomplishments and Service, Rutgers University, 2008[38]
  • Person of the Year, New Haven Register, 2009[39]
  • Graduate Mentor Award, Social Sciences, Yale University, 2010[40]
  • Atkinson-Stern Award for Distinguished Public Service, The Obesity Society, 2010[41]
  • Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology, American Psychological Association, 2012[42]
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, American Psychological Association, 2012[43]
  • The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds, Highly Cited Researchers, Thomson Reuters, 2014, 2015[44]
  • David P. Rall Award for Public Health Advocacy, American Public Health Association, 2014[45]
  • Joseph Priestley Award, Dickinson College, 2017[46]

The Sanford School of Public Policy's Brownell-Whetten Diversity and Inclusion Award was established in 2016 to recognize the work of Brownell and fellow professor, Kate Whetten.[47]

Selected works[edit]

  • Behavioral Medicine and Women: A Comprehensive Handbook, ISBN 978-1572305229
  • Eating, Body Weight, and Performance in Athletes: Disorders of Modern Society ISBN 978-0812114744
  • Eating Disorders and Obesity, Third Edition: A Comprehensive Handbook, ISBN 978-1462529063
  • Food and Addition: A Comprehensive Handbook, ISBN 978-0-19-973816-8
  • Handbook of Eating Disorders: Psychology, Physiology, And Treatment, ISBN 978-0465028627
  • Weight Bias: Nature, Consequences, and Remedies, ISBN 978-1593851996

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ State of Connecticut voter registration information
  2. ^ Gold, Matea; Hennessey, Kathleen (July 21, 2013). "Michelle Obama's nutrition campaign comes with political pitfalls". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  3. ^ "TESTIMONY OF KELLY D. BROWNELL, Ph.D." (PDF). United States Senate Committee On Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry. United States Senate. March 6, 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  4. ^ "When you lose weight - and gain it all back". NBC News. NBC. June 6, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  5. ^ "Kelly Brownell". Time Magazine. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  6. ^ "Meet our Distinguished Alumni". Psychological Sciences, College of Health and Human Sciences. Purdue University. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  7. ^ "Distinguished Alumni/ae Awardees". School of Graduate Studies. Rutgers University. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  8. ^ Brownell, Kelly D.; Heckerman, Carol L.; Westlake, Robert J.; Hayes, Steven; Monti, Peter M. (January 5, 1978). "The Effect of Spouse Training and Partner Cooperativeness in the Behavioral Treatment of Obesity". Behaviour Research and Therapy. 16 (5): 323–333. doi:10.1016/0005-7967(78)90002-5. PMID 743074.(Subscription required.)
  9. ^ "Kelly Brownell named the James Rowland Angell Professor". Yale School of Medicine. Yale University. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  10. ^ "Kelly Brownell Named Dean of Sanford School". Duke Today. Duke University. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  11. ^ "Kelly Brownell". Duke University. Duke University. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Stancill, Jane (July 10, 2017). "How Duke and NC State may play a role in what and how we eat". News & Observer. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  13. ^ "Kelly D. Brownell". Sanford School of Public Policy. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  14. ^ "Kelly Brownell". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  15. ^ "Meet Big Soda — as Bad as Big Tobacco". Time Magazine. Time, Inc. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  16. ^ Brownell, Kelly D. (January 23, 2004). "The Sweet And Lowdown On Sugar". New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  17. ^ "Past Presidents". Society of Behavioral Medicine. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  18. ^ "Past Presidents". Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  19. ^ "People". American Psychological Association. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  20. ^ Garfield, Eugene (October 12, 1992). Psychology Research, 1986-1990: A Citationist Perspective on the Highest Impact Papers, Institutions, and Authors (PDF). Essays of an Information Scientist Series, Volume15: Of Nobel Class, Women in Science, Citation Classics and Other Essays. Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). ISBN 978-0894950933.
  21. ^ O'Connor, Anahad; Sanger-Katz, Margot (November 26, 2016). "As Soda Taxes Gain Wider Acceptance, Your Bottle May Be Next". New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  22. ^ Park, Alice (December 13, 2010). "Study: Soda Taxes May Not Be Enough to Curb Obesity". TIME Magazine. Time, Inc. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  23. ^ Taubes, Gary; Kearns Couzens, Cristin (September 14, 2012). "Why Mike Bloomberg's 'Soda Ban' Could Actually Work". Daily Beast. IAC Publishing. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  24. ^ Huckabee, Mike (May 8, 2006). "Kelly Brownell". TIME Magazine. Time, Inc. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  25. ^ "Chocolate Flavored Toddler Formula. Yikes!". Huffington Post Lifestyle. Huffington Post. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  26. ^ Brownell, Kelly D. (June 7, 2017). "The Big Business of The Obesity Crisis". The Takeaway (Interview). Interviewed by Mary Harris. New York: Public Radio International and WNYC.
  27. ^ Neal, Rome (November 26, 2016). "'Super-Sizing' America's Kids". CBS News. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  28. ^ Tuchler, Margot (30 January 2013). "Duke names Kelly Brownell as new Sanford dean". Duke Chronicle. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  29. ^ "Big Mac: Inside the McDonald's Empire (2007)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  30. ^ "Killer at Large (2008)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  31. ^ Simon, Michelle (May 16, 2012). "HBO's 'Weight of the Nation' should have taken focus on food system change further". Grist. Grist Magazine, Inc. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  32. ^ MacVean, Mary (May 9, 2014). "'Fed Up' documentary lays blame for American obesity on food industry". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  33. ^ "Sustainable (2016)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  34. ^ "All Distinguished Alumni Recipients". Purdue College of Liberal Arts. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  35. ^ Curtis, John (Spring 2006). "Six at Yale named to Institute of Medicine". Yale Medicine. Yale School of Medicine. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  36. ^ "Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering Elects Twenty-Five New Members in 2006" (PDF). Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  37. ^ "Past Award Recipients". Society of Behavioral Medicine. Archived from the original on May 22, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  38. ^ "Faculty Honors and Awards 2012". School of Arts and Sciences. Rutgers University. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  39. ^ Stannard, Ed (December 27, 2009). "Person of the Year says to eat, drink and be wary (with video)". New Haven Register. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  40. ^ "Graduate Mentor Award". Graduate Student Assembly. Yale University. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  41. ^ "TOS Award Recipients thru 2016" (PDF). The Obesity Society. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  42. ^ "Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology". American Psychological Association. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  43. ^ Weir, Kirsten (May 2012). "Lifetime Achievement". Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  44. ^ "Archived Lists". Clarivate Analytics. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  45. ^ "Previous Rall Award for Advocacy Winners". American Public Health Association. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  46. ^ "Joseph Priestley Award". Dickinson College. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  47. ^ "Diversity and Inclusion". Sanford School of Public Policy. Duke University. Retrieved January 29, 2018.