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Barry M. Popkin
Ph.D., W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor, Nutrition
Adjunct Professor, Economics
Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar Profile
PubMed Publications
CPC Publications

Barry Popkin helps countries design the most effective national regulations and fiscal policies to promote healthy eating, obesity prevention, and sustainability while reducing undernutrition and leads programs undertaking evaluations of these new policies. His work covers dozens of countries with a current focus on the US, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, South Africa and cohorts in a number of counties, especially the China Healthy Nutrition Survey in China. He focuses also on the nutrition transition across the life cycle. All his work focuses on reducing disparities in health.

Barry M Popkin has a PhD in economics and functions mainly as a nutrition epidemiologist. He established the UNC Interdisciplinary Obesity Center, funded by NIH and now the Global Food Research Program(GFRP).  He has developed the concept of the Nutrition Transition, the study of the dynamic shifts in our environment and the way we eat, drink and move  and the subsequent body composition shifts (e.g. increased 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 and also his global food research program--  He also prepared the first papers on the double burden of malnutrition.

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 and policy design and evaluation side at the national level, including long-term collaborations with a number of countries in evaluating SSB and junk food taxes, front-of-the-package labeling systems, advertising controls, and school feeding initiatives. This includes work with collaborative  evaluation research in Mexico(with the National Institute of Public Health); Chile (the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Chile; South Africa (University of Western Cape and Wits University), Brazil, (NUPENS, University of Sao Paulo SPH), Peru (CHRONICAS-Caetano University); Colombia (Javeriana Univ), CAIHR,Univ of West Indies and others.   . He is working currently with those countries and a number of others, including India and China, among the many other countries currently in developing tax and regulatory policies to create healthier diets and prevent obesity and other nutrition-related NCD’s.  He has consulted iwth many other countries on large-scale regulatory approaches to preventing obesity.    He actively consults with a variety of international multilateral agencies on ways to improve diet quality globally.

Popkin’s many major awards for his global contributions include the 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 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 1965 Wisconsin King Christian IV Award for Civil Rights Contributions, He has given more than 100 plenary talks on his research program and receive many other national top scientist awards.  He has chaired the dissertation committees of over 66 doctoral students at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and has served as principal investigator on grants totaling more than $190 million in direct costs, many funded by the NIH.

He has published over 630 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 224,081 citations ).

Associated Projects

Associated Research Themes