Kelly D. Brownell

Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Rutgers University 1977

  • M.S., Rutgers University 1975

  • B.S., Purdue University 1973


Kelly Brownell is Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where he is also Robert L. Flowers Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Director of the World Food Policy Center.

In 2006 Time magazine listed Brownell among “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” in its special Time 100 issue featuring those “.. whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.” Brownell was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine in 2006 and has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, Graduate Mentoring Award from Yale, the James McKeen Cattell Award from the New York Academy of Sciences, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rutgers University, and the Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology from the American Psychological Association.

Prior to joining the faculty at Duke, Brownell was at Yale University where he was the James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology, professor of epidemiology and public health, and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. While at Yale he served as chair of the department of psychology and as master of Silliman College.

Brownell has published 15 books and more than 350 scientific articles and chapters. He has served as president of several national organizations, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy and the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

Brownell has advised the White House, members of congress, governors, world health and nutrition organizations, and media leaders on issues of nutrition, obesity and public policy. He was cited as a “moral entrepreneur” with special influence on public discourse in a history of the obesity field and was cited by Time magazine as a leading “warrior” in the area of nutrition and public policy.

Cooksey-Stowers, K, Schwartz, MB, and Brownell, KD. "Food swamps predict obesity rates better than food deserts in the United States." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14.11 (November 14, 2017). Full Text

Bragg, MA, Roberto, CA, Harris, JL, Brownell, KD, and Elbel, B. "Marketing Food and Beverages to Youth Through Sports." Journal of Adolescent Health (October 2017). Full Text

Roberto, CA, and Brownell, KD. "Strategic science for eating disorders research and policy impact." The International journal of eating disorders 50.3 (March 2017): 312-314. Full Text

Bleich, SN, Rimm, EB, and Brownell, KD. "U.S. Nutrition Assistance, 2018 - Modifying SNAP to Promote Population Health." The New England journal of medicine 376.13 (March 2017): 1205-1207. Full Text

Brownell, KD, and Wadden, TA. "The Heterogeneity of Obesity: Fitting Treatments To Individuals – Republished Article." Behavior Therapy 47.6 (November 2016): 950-965. Full Text

Gearhardt, AN, Corbin, WR, and Brownell, KD. "Development of the Yale Food Addiction Scale Version 2.0." Psychology of addictive behaviors : journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors 30.1 (February 2016): 113-121. Full Text

Roberto, CA, Swinburn, B, Hawkes, C, Huang, TT-K, Costa, SA, Ashe, M, Zwicker, L, Cawley, JH, and Brownell, KD. "Patchy progress on obesity prevention: emerging examples, entrenched barriers, and new thinking." Lancet (London, England) 385.9985 (June 2015): 2400-2409. (Review) Full Text

Brownell, KD, and Roberto, CA. "Strategic science with policy impact." Lancet (London, England) 385.9986 (June 2015): 2445-2446. Full Text

Pearl, RL, Dovidio, JF, Puhl, RM, and Brownell, KD. "Exposure to Weight-Stigmatizing Media: Effects on Exercise Intentions, Motivation, and Behavior." Journal of health communication 20.9 (January 2015): 1004-1013. Full Text

Yokum, S, Gearhardt, AN, Harris, JL, Brownell, KD, and Stice, E. "Individual differences in striatum activity to food commercials predict weight gain in adolescents." Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) 22.12 (December 2014): 2544-2551. Full Text


Brownell, KD. "The power of industry (money) in influencing science." Ethical Challenges in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. January 1, 2015. 197-199. Full Text

Thomas, JJ, and Brownell, KD. "Obesity." Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine, Second Edition. January 1, 2014. 797-800. Full Text

Food and Addiction: A Comprehensive Handbook. Ed. KD Brownell and MS Gold. Oxford University Press, August 30, 2012. (Edited Book)

Selected Grants

Launching a World Food Policy Center awarded by Duke Endowment (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2022

World Food Policy Center Capacity & Rural NC Project awarded by William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2020

To fund a planning grant for a world food policy center awarded by Duke Endowment (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2018