Barry Popkin headshot

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 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 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:

  • 2018 Obesity Society Atkinson-Stern Award for Distinguished Public Service
  • 2018 American Heart Association Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council David Kritchevsky Memorial Lecture and Award
  • 2016 World Obesity Federation Population Science and Public Health Award
  • Chinese government’s first award in 2015 for significant foreign contributions to Chinese nutrition
  • 2015 Conrad A. Elvehjem Award for Public Service in Nutrition
  • India’s 2011 Gopalan Oration Award
  • 2011 Obesity Society Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2010 elected a fellow of the Obesity Society
  • 2010 United Kingdom Rank Prize for Science
  • 2010 E. V. McCollum Lecturer for International Nutrition Award
  • 1998 American Society of Nutrition Kellogg International Nutrition Research Award
  • 1992 UNC School of Public Health Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Leadership Endowment Award
  • 1965 elected a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation
  • 1965 Wisconsin King Christian IV Award for Civil Rights Contributions.

Popkin 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.

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.

GFRP Publications

Nutritional quality of pre-packaged foods in China under various nutrient profile models
Authors: Yuan Li, Huijun Wang, Puhong Zhang, Barry M. Popkin, Daisy H. Coyle, Jingmin Ding, Le Dong, Jiguo Zhang, Wenwen Du, Simone Pettigrew
Published in: Nutrients, June 29, 2022 view full text

Does excessive fast-food consumption impair our health?
Author: Barry M. Popkin
Published in: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 9, 2022 view full text

Changes in nonnutritive sweetener intake in a cohort of preschoolers after the implementation of Chile's Law of Food Labelling and Advertising
Authors: Natalia Rebolledo, Marcela Reyes, Barry M. Popkin, Linda Adair, Christy L. Avery, Camila Corvalán, Shu Wen Ng, Lindsey Smith Taillie
Published in: Pediatric Obesity, January 27, 2022 view full text

Front-of-pack labeling in Chile: Effects on employment, real wages, and firms’ profits after three years of its implementation
Authors: Guillermo Paraje, Daniela Montes de Oca, Juan Marcos Wlasiuk, Mario Canales, Barry M. Popkin
Published in: Nutrients, January 11, 2022 view full text

The effects of physical activity and sedentary behaviors on overweight and obesity among boys may differ from those among girls in China: An open cohort study
Authors: Zhe Mo, Huijun Wang, Bing Zhang, Gangqiang Ding, Barry M. Popkin, Shufa Du
Published in: The Journal of Nutrition, January 8, 2022 view full text

The impacts on food purchases and tax revenues of a tax based on Chile’s nutrient profiling model
Authors: M. Arantxa Colchero, Guillermo Paraje, Barry M. Popkin
Published in: PLOS ONE, December 2, 2021 view full text

Whole grain and refined grains: An examination of US household grocery store purchases
Authors: Elizabeth K. Dunford, Donna R. Miles, Barry M. Popkin, Shu Wen Ng
Published in: The Journal of Nutrition, October 28, 2021 view full text

Cash transfer programs are important for improved nutrition in low- and middle-income countries
Authors: Barry M. Popkin
Published in: The Journal of Nutrition, October 12, 2021 view full text

The nutrition transition to a stage of high obesity and noncommunicable disease prevalence dominated by ultra-processed foods is not inevitable
Authors: Barry M. Popkin BMShu Wen Ng 
Published in: Obesity Reviews, October 10, 2021 view full text

Associations between select state policies and the nutritional quality of household packaged food purchases in the US from 2008-2017
Authors: Allison M. Lacko, David Guilkey, Barry M. Popkin, Shu Wen Ng
Published in: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, October 6, 2021 view full text

Linking a sugar-sweetened beverage tax with fruit and vegetable subsidies: A simulation analysis of the impact on the poor
Authors: Pourya Valizadeh, Barry M. Popkin, Shu Wen Ng
Published in: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 5, 2021 view full text

Television viewing and using screens while eating: Associations with dietary intake in children and adolescents
Authors: Melissa L. Jensen, Francesca R. Dillman Carpentier, Camila Corvalán, Barry M. Popkin, Kelly R. Evenson, Linda Adair, Lindsey Smith Taillie
Published in: Appetite, September 1, 2021 view full text

The WHO South-East Asia region nutrient profile model is quite appropriate for India: An exploration of 31,516 Food Products
Authors: Chandra Pandav, Lindsey Smith Taillie, Donna R. Miles, Bridget A. Hollingsworth, Barry M. Popkin
Published in: Nutrients, August 15, 2021 view full text

Changes in food purchases after the Chilean policies on food labelling, marketing, and sales in schools: a before and after study
Authors: Lindsey Smith Taillie, Maxime Bercholz, Barry M. Popkin, Marcela Reyes, M. Arantxa Colchero, Camila Corvalán
Published in: The Lancet Planetary Health, August 1, 2021 view full text

The need to reshape global food processing: a call to the United Nations Food Systems Summit
Authors: Carlos Augusto Monteiro, Mark Lawrence, Christopher Millett, Marion Nestle, Barry M Popkin, Gyorgy Scrinis, Boyd Swinburn
Published in: BMJ Global Health, July 1, 2021 view full text

South Africa's health promotion levy: Excise tax findings and equity potential
Authors: Karen Hofman, Nicholas Stacey, Elizabeth Swart, Barry Popkin, Shu Wen Ng
Published in: Obesity Reviews, May 31, 2021 view full text

Taxed and untaxed beverage consumption by young adults in Langa, South Africa before and one year after a national sugar-sweetened beverage tax
Authors: Michael Essman, Lindsey Smith Taillie, Tamryn Frank, Shu Wen Ng, Barry M. Popkin, Elizabeth C. Swart
Published in: PLOS Medicine, May 25, 2021 view full text

TV advertising and dietary intake in adolescents: A pre-and post-study of Chile’s Food Marketing Policy
Authors: Melissa L. JensenFrancesca R. Dillman Carpentier, Linda Adair, Camila Corvalán, Barry M. Popkin, and Lindsey Smith Taillie
Published in: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, May 4, 2021 view full text

Towards unified and impactful policies to reduce ultra-processed food consumption and promote healthier eating
Authors: Barry M. Popkin, Simon Barquera, Camila Corvalan, Karen Hofman, Carlos Monteiro, Shu Wen Ng, Elizabeth C. Swart, Lindsey Smith Taillie
Published in: The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, April 15, 2021 view full text

Changes in beverage purchases following the announcement and implementation of South Africa's Health Promotion Levy: An observational study
Authors: Nicholas Stacey, Ijeoma Edoka, Karen Hofman, Elizabeth C. Swart, Barry Popkin, and Shu Wen Ng
Published in: The Lancet Planetary Health, April 1, 2021 view full text