Barry M. Popkin

W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at UNC Chapel Hill

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 he established the Division of Nutrition Epidemiology at UNC and later the UNC Interdisciplinary Obesity Center, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He developed the concept of the Nutrition Transition — the study of dynamic shifts in our environment and the way they affect dietary intake, physical activity patterns, and trends in obesity and other nutrition-related, noncommunicable diseases. His research program focuses on understanding the nutrition transition happening in both the United States and globally in low- and middle-income countries and on programs and policies to improve population health linked with this transition. Popkin has played a central role in placing the determinants and consequences of global obesity on the global stage and is now actively involved in work on national-level program and policy designs and evaluations, including collaborative research evaluating sugar-sweetened beverage and junk food taxes in Mexico (with the National Institute of Public Health and Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology), and similar work with the University of Chile in evaluating an SSB tax and marketing/FOP controls. He is working with eight other countries currently in developing evidence-based taxes and other regulatory policies to create healthier diets and prevent obesity and other nutrition-related NCD’s and is consulted by countries and multinational agencies across the globe on large-scale regulatory approaches to preventing obesity.

Popkin has been recognized for his global contributions with awards including 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; India’s 2011 Gopalan Oration Award; 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 640 refereed journal articles and PLOS rated him as one of the top cited scholars in the world among 7 million scholars in 2017.

The craziest things I’ve ever eaten range from fish eyeballs to dozens of kinds of fried spiders and insects to poison-removed Japanese blowfish.

My family’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving when my entire Popkin family gets together for a 4-5-day period.

My favorite drink is great red wine.


Popkin BMNg SWThe nutrition transition to a stage of high obesity and noncommunicable disease prevalence dominated by ultra-processed foods is not inevitableObesity Reviews.  2021; 1- 18. doi: 10.1111/obr.13366 view full text

Jensen ML, Carpentier FD, Corvalán C, Popkin BM, Evenson KR, Adair L, Taillie LS. Television viewing and using screens while eating: Associations with dietary intake in children and adolescents. Appetite. 2021 Sep 1:105670. view full text

Pandav C, Smith Taillie L, Miles DR, Hollingsworth BA, Popkin BM. The WHO South-East Asia Region Nutrient Profile Model Is Quite Appropriate for India: An Exploration of 31,516 Food Products. Nutrients. 2021; 13(8):2799. view full text

Taillie LS, Bercholz M, Popkin B, Reyes M, Colchero MA, Corvalán C. Changes in food purchases after the Chilean policies on food labelling, marketing, and sales in schools: a before and after study. The Lancet Planetary Health. 2021 Aug 1;5(8):e526-33. view full text

Dunford EK, Popkin B, Ng SW. Junk Food Intake Among Adults in the United States. The Journal of Nutrition. 2021 Jul 5. view full text

Monteiro CA, Lawrence M, Millett C, Nestle M, Popkin BM, Scrinis G, Swinburn B. The need to reshape global food processing: a call to the United Nations Food Systems Summit. BMJ Global Health. 2021 Jul 1;6(7):e006885. view full text

Hofman KJ, Stacey N, Swart EC, Popkin BMNg SWSouth Africa's Health Promotion Levy: Excise tax findings and equity potentialObesity Reviews. 2021; 1– 7. view full text

Essman M, Taillie LS, Jenkings T, Ng SW, Popkin BM, Swart EC. 2021. Taxed and untaxed beverage consumption by young adults in Langa, South Africa before and one year after a national sugar-sweetened beverage taxPLOS Medicine. view full text

Jensen ML, Carpentier FR, Adair L, Corvalán C, Popkin BM, Taillie LS. TV advertising and dietary intake in adolescents: a pre-and post-study of Chile’s Food Marketing Policy. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2021 Dec;18(1):1-1. view full text

Popkin BM, Barquera S, Corvalan C, Hofman KJ, Monteiro C, Ng SW, Swart EC, Taillie LS. Towards unified and impactful policies to reduce ultra-processed food consumption and promote healthier eating. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 2021 Apr 15. view full text

Stacey N, Edoka I, Hofman K, Swart EC, Popkin B, Ng SW. Changes in beverage purchases following the announcement and implementation of South Africa's Health Promotion Levy: An observational study. The Lancet Planetary Health. 2021 Apr 1;5(4):e200-8. view full text

Paraje G, Colchero A, Wlasiuk JM, Sota AM, Popkin BM. The effects of the Chilean food policy package on aggregate employment and real wages. Food Policy. 2021 Apr 1;100:102016. view full text

Reardon T, Tschirley D, Liverpool-Tasie LS, Awokuse T, Fanzo J, Minten B, Vos R, Dolislager M, Sauer C, Dhar R, Vargas C, Lartey A, Raza A, Popkin BM. The processed food revolution in African food systems and the double burden of malnutrition. Global Food Security. 2021;28:100466. view full text

Popkin, BM. To assist the large number of countries facing the double burden of malnutrition we must understand its causes and recognize the need for policies that do no harmThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 113, Issue 4, April 2021, Pages 765–766, view full text

Doherty AM, Lacko AM, Popkin BM. Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is associated with lower quality of the non-SSB diet in US adolescents and young adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2021 Mar;113(3):657-64. view full text

González-Morales R, Canto-Osorio F, Stern D, Sánchez-Romero LM, Torres-Ibarra L, Hernández-López R, Rivera-Paredez B, Vidaña-Pérez D, Ramírez-Palacios P, Salmerón J, Popkin BM. Soft drink intake is associated with weight gain, regardless of physical activity levels: The health workers cohort study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2020 Dec;17:1-0. view full text

Popkin BM, Du S, Green WD, Beck MA, Algaith T, Herbst CH, Alsukait RF, Alluhidan M, Alazemi N, Shekar M. Individuals with obesity and COVID-19: A global perspective on the epidemiology and biological relationships. Obesity Reviews. 2020 Nov;21(11):e13128. view full text

Jensen ML, Carpentier FD, Adair L, Corvalán C, Popkin BM, Taillie LS. Examining Chile's unique food marketing policy: TV advertising and dietary intake in preschool children, a pre‐and post‐policy study. Pediatric Obesity. 2021 Apr;16(4):e12735. view full text

Lowery CM, Mora-Plazas M, Gómez LF, Popkin B, Taillie LS. Reformulation of Packaged Foods and Beverages in the Colombian Food Supply. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 24;12(11):E3260. doi: 10.3390/nu12113260. view full text

Lacko A, Ng SW, Popkin B. Urban vs. Rural Socioeconomic Differences in the Nutritional Quality of Household Packaged Food Purchases by Store Type. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 20;17(20):7637. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17207637. view full text