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Barry Popkin, PhD, MS, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member and has played a central role in placing the concerns of global obesity, its determinants, and consequences on the global stage.

WR Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition
UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Prevention and Control

Area of Interest

Barry M. Popkin, PhD, MS, established the Division of Nutrition Epidemiology at UNC. 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

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 US and global levels, including collaborative SSB/junk food tax evaluation research in Mexico (with the National Institute of Public Health), similar work with the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Chile in evaluating an SSB tax and marketing/FOP controls, the South African SSB tax. See his global food research program:

He is working with eight other countries intensely in developing tax and regulatory policies to create healthier diets and prevent obesity and other nutrition-related NCD’s and with many others in shorter consultative roles. He has received over a dozen major awards for his global contributions, including: 2016 World Obesity Society: Population Science & Public Health Award – for top global researcher in public health with also significant service contributions.; 2015; UK Rank Science Prize; and The Obesity Society Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award.

Find publications on PubMed

Awards and Honors

  • Highly Cited Researchers (Top 1%), Web of Science, Clarivate Analytics, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • John E. Larsh Jr. Award for Mentorship, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, 2019
  • Atkinson-Stern Award for Distinguished Public Service, Obesity Society, 2018
  • David Kritchevsky Memorial Lecture Award, American Heart Association Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health, 2018
  • Population Science and Public Health Award, World Obesity Federation, 2016
  • Chinese Nutrition Society’s first award for significant foreign contributions to Chinese nutrition, 2015
  • Conrad Elvehjem Award for Public Service in Nutrition, American Society for Nutrition, 2015
  • The Gopalan Oration Award winner of the top nutrition prize from India and the Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award, 2011
  • The Obesity Society, 2010, 2011
  • United Kingdom Rank Prize for Science, 2010
  • Fellow, American Society of Nutritional Sciences, 2010
  • Recipient of the 1998 Society for International Nutrition Research Kellogg Prize for outstanding International Nutrition, 2010
  • Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Leadership Endowment Award of the School of Public Health; Woodrow Wilson Foundation, 1992
  • Fellow; Wisconsin King Christian IV Award for Civil Rights contribution, 1965

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