Skip to main content

Barry Popkin

W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition
  W. Franklin St. 123

Barry M. Popkin, PhD, is the W. R. Kenan, Jr. distinguished professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). He has a PhD in economics and established the Division of Nutrition Epidemiology at UNC and later established and ran the UNC Interdisciplinary Obesity Center, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has developed the concept of the Nutrition Transition, the study of the dynamic shifts in our environment and the way they affect dietary intake and physical activity patterns and trends and obesity and other nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases. His research program focuses globally (both the US and low and middle-income countries on understanding the shifts in stages of the transition and programs and policies to improve the population health linked with this transition (see the Nutrans website and also his global food research program). He has played a central role in placing the concerns of global obesity, its determinants, and consequences on the global stage and is now actively involved in work on the program, policy design, and evaluation side at the national level, including collaborative SSB/junk food tax evaluation research in Mexico (with the National Institute of Public Health) to evaluate the impact of the Mexican SSB and nonessential food taxes. Similarly, he works with the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology at the University of Chile to evaluate an SSB tax and marketing/FOP controls. He is working with 8 other countries currently in developing tax and regulatory policies to create healthier diets and prevent obesity and other nutrition-related NCD’s and is consulted by countries across the globe on large-scale regulatory approaches to preventing obesity. Popkin’s many major awards for his global contributions include the 2018 Obesity Society Atkinson-Stern Award for Distinguished Public Service; the 2018 American Heart Association Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council David Kritchevsky Memorial Lecture and Award; the 2016 World Obesity Federation Population Science and Public Health Award; the Chinese government’s first award in 2015 for significant foreign contributions to Chinese nutrition; the 2015 Conrad A. Elvehjem Award for Public Service in Nutrition; the 2011 Gopalan Oration Award, the top nutrition prize in India; the 2011 Obesity Society Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award; in 2010 elected a fellow of the Obesity Society; the 2010 United Kingdom Rank Prize for Science; the 2010 E. V. McCollum Lecturer for International Nutrition Award; the 1998 American Society of Nutrition Kellogg International Nutrition Research Award the 1992 UNC School of Public Health Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Leadership Endowment Award; in 1965 elected a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation; and the 1965 Wisconsin King Christian IV Award for Civil Rights Contributions. He has chaired the dissertation committees of over 60 doctoral students at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and has served as principal investigator on grants totaling more than $165 million in direct costs, many funded by the NIH. He has published over 570 refereed journal articles and PLOS rated him as one of the top cited scholars in the world among 7 million scholars in 2017 (rated number 203 or in the top 0.003% scientists in the world-H-index 166).
Barry Popkin