Kelly D. Brownell

Kelly D. Brownell

Robert L. Flowers Distinguished Professor of Public Policy

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Rutgers University 1977

  • M.S., Rutgers University 1975

  • B.S., Purdue University 1973


Kelly Brownell is the Robert L. Flowers Professor of Public Policy, a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Director of the World Food Policy Center at the Sanford School of Public Policy. He served as dean of the Sanford School fron 2013-2018.

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.

Torto, N. M., and K. D. Brownell. “Role of food aid and assistance in addressing the double burden of malnutrition in Ghana: A qualitative policy analysis.” Bmj Nutrition, Prevention and Health, vol. 3, no. 2, Dec. 2020, pp. 196–204. Scopus, doi:10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000136. Full Text

Miller, D. Lee, et al. “Primer on US Food and Nutrition Policy and Public Health: Food Sustainability.American Journal of Public Health, vol. 109, no. 7, July 2019, pp. 986–88. Epmc, doi:10.2105/ajph.2019.305071. Full Text

Brownell, Kelly D., et al. “Primer on US Food and Nutrition Policy and Public Health: Food Assistance.American Journal of Public Health, vol. 109, no. 7, July 2019, pp. 988–89. Epmc, doi:10.2105/ajph.2019.305070. Full Text

Schwartz, Marlene B., et al. “Primer on US Food and Nutrition Policy and Public Health: Protect School Nutrition Standards.American Journal of Public Health, vol. 109, no. 7, July 2019, pp. 990–91. Epmc, doi:10.2105/ajph.2019.305072. Full Text

Barnhill, Anne, et al. “Grappling With Complex Food Systems to Reduce Obesity: A US Public Health Challenge.Public Health Reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974), vol. 133, no. 1_suppl, Nov. 2018, pp. 44S-53S. Epmc, doi:10.1177/0033354918802793. Full Text

Bragg, Marie A., et al. “Sports Sponsorships of Food and Nonalcoholic Beverages.Pediatrics, vol. 141, no. 4, Apr. 2018. Epmc, doi:10.1542/peds.2017-2822. Full Text

Tomaselli, Gordon, et al. “Government continues to have an important role in promoting cardiovascular health.American Heart Journal, vol. 198, Apr. 2018, pp. 160–65. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.ahj.2017.11.002. Full Text

Bragg, Marie A., et al. “Marketing Food and Beverages to Youth Through Sports.The Journal of Adolescent Health : Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, vol. 62, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 5–13. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.06.016. Full Text

Cooksey-Stowers, Kristen, et al. “Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 14, no. 11, Nov. 2017. Epmc, doi:10.3390/ijerph14111366. Full Text

Roberto, Christina A., and Kelly D. Brownell. “Strategic science for eating disorders research and policy impact.The International Journal of Eating Disorders, vol. 50, no. 3, Mar. 2017, pp. 312–14. Epmc, doi:10.1002/eat.22678. Full Text


Lobel, O., et al. “Direct regulation for the public’s health and safety.” Public Health Law and Ethics: A Reader, Third Edition, 2018, pp. 233–73.

Lott, M., et al. “Why we need local, state, and national policy-based approaches to improve children's nutrition in the united states.” Contemporary Endocrinology, 2018, pp. 731–55. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-68192-4_42. Full Text

Brownell, K. D. “The power of industry (money) in influencing science.” Ethical Challenges in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2015, pp. 197–99. Scopus, doi:10.1007/9781139626491.063. Full Text

Thomas, J. J., and K. D. Brownell. “Obesity.” Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine, Second Edition, 2014, pp. 797–800. Scopus, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511543579.207. Full Text

Puhl, R. M., et al. “Bias, discrimination, and obesity.” Handbook of Obesity: Epidemiology, Etiology, and Physiopathology, Third Edition, 2014, pp. 461–70.

Puhl, R., and K. D. Brownell. “Bias, discrimination and obesity.” Health and Human Rights in a Changing World, 2013, pp. 607–17. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9780203576298. Full Text

Puhl, R. M., and K. D. Brownell. “Bias, discrimination, and obesity.” Handbook of Obesity: Clinical Applications, Third Edition, 2008, pp. 81–90.

Geier, A. B., and K. D. Brownell. “Acknowledging and reversing the toxic environment.” Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, 2006, pp. 429–46.

Puhl, R. M., and K. D. Brownell. “Bias, prejudice, discrimination, and obesity.” Handbook of Obesity: Clinical Applications, 2003, pp. 69–74.

Brownell, K. D., and M. S. Gold, editors. Food and Addiction: A Comprehensive Handbook. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Selected Grants

Launching a World Food Policy Center - Phase III awarded by Duke Endowment (Principal Investigator). 2022 to 2027

World Policy Center Grant awarded by Rudd Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2023

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

External Financing Landscape for Agriculture Development awarded by New Venture Fund (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2021

Impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the North Carolina food system awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2020

Assessing the Viability and Forms of a Potential SDG2 Leaders Alliance awarded by New Venture Fund (Principal Investigator). 2020

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

Black North Carolina Youth Pipeline to Food & Agriculture-Driven Health Improvement awarded by Department of Agriculture (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2020

Rural Child Hunger Faith Community Engagement Project awarded by Share Our Strength (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2020

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