Kelly Brownell — Kelly D. Brownell is an American scientist, professor, and internationally renowned expert on obesity. Brownell is Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, where he is also Professor of Psychology and Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health. His research deals primarily with obesity and the intersection of behavior, environment, and health with public policy. He was named in 2006 as one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” by Time magazine.
Brownell was born in 1951 and was raised in Indiana. His undergraduate work was at Purdue University, followed by a PhD in clinical psychology from Rutgers University in 1977, advised by G. Terence Wilson, and additional training at Brown University.
He served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for 13 years before joining the Yale University faculty in 1990. He served from 1995 to 1999 as Director of Clinical Training, from 1999 to 2003 as Director of Graduate Studies, and from 2003 to 2006 as Chair of Yale’s Department of Psychology. In 1994 he became Master of Silliman College at Yale where he served until 2000. He was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine in 2006 and 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.
He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the James McKeen Cattell Award from the New York Academy of Sciences, the award for Outstanding Contribution to Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rutgers University. He has published 14 books and more than 300 scientific articles and chapters. One book received the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Book from the American Library Association, and his paper on “Understanding and Preventing Relapse” published in the American Psychologist was listed as one of the most frequently cited papers in psychology.
Brownell has advised members of congress, governors, world health and nutrition organizations, celebrities, 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 the history of the obesity field, and was cited by Time magazine as a leading “warrior” in the area of nutrition and public policy. As Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, he oversees all aspects of strategy and programming for the center.
Brownell teaches a class entitled “The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food” for Yale undergraduates. The class draws over 200 students each year. He featured in the Academy Award–nominated film Super Size Me.
He is credited with coining the terms “toxic food environment” and “yo-yo dieting”, is a proponent of a soda tax, and was the first to propose a food tax to improve the nation’s food environment