Kelly D. Brownell's research while affiliated with Yale University and other places

Publications (158)

Article
Body weight is regulated by a complex interaction of biological, behavioral, and cultural factors. The population as a whole is at risk for obesity because of increased intake of dietary fat, the consumption of calories in fewer meals per day, striking accessibility to palatable foods, and decreased physical activity. This risk may become a reality...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To investigate the influence of a defendant's weight on simulated jurors' perceptions of guilt. Design and methods: Participants were 471 lean and overweight adults (mean body mass index: 25.34±5.91) who read a vignette describing a case of check fraud while viewing one of four images of the alleged defendant (a lean male, a lean fema...
Article
Full-text available
In an article that forms part of the PLoS Medicine series on Big Food, Kelly Brownell offers a perspective on engaging with the food industry, and argues that governments and the public health community should be working for regulation, not collaboration.
Article
This chapter discusses the responsibility of changing public policy to address obesity. The understanding of obesity as an issue of personal responsibility has led to weak government action. The chapter notes that the environment is the major force underlying the obesity crisis and then addresses school food environments, food access and cost, suga...
Article
Reports an error in "Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response" by Alia J. Crum, William R. Corbin, Kelly D. Brownell and Peter Salovey (Health Psychology, np). In the second paragraph on the first page, the Allison & Uhl 1964 citation is incorrect. The corrected sentence and full citation is provided in the err...
Article
Full-text available
To test whether physiological satiation as measured by the gut peptide ghrelin may vary depending on the mindset in which one approaches consumption of food. On 2 separate occasions, participants (n = 46) consumed a 380-calorie milkshake under the pretense that it was either a 620-calorie "indulgent" shake or a 140-calorie "sensible" shake. Ghrelin...
Article
Threatened by possible government regulation and critical public opinion, industries often undertake self-regulatory actions, issue statements of concern for public welfare, and assert that self-regulation is sufficient to protect the public. The food industry has made highly visible pledges to curtail children's food marketing, sell fewer unhealth...
Article
The rise in obesity levels in the U.S. in the past several decades has been dramatic, with serious implications for public health and the economy. Experiences in tobacco control and other public health initiatives have shown that public policy may be a powerful tool to effect structural change to alter population-level behavior. In 2007, the Nation...
Article
DSM-IV cites <85% of expected body weight (EBW) as a guideline for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa (AN) but does not require a specific method for calculating EBW. The purpose of the present study was to determine the degree to which weight cut-off calculations vary across studies, and to evaluate whether differential cut-offs lead to discrepanci...
Article
Full-text available
Limited data are available on the prevalence and patterns of body weight discrimination from representative samples. This study examined experiences of weight/height discrimination in a nationally representative sample of US adults and compared their prevalence and patterns with discrimination experiences based on race and gender. Data were from th...
Article
Full-text available
A set of seven principles (the ‘Sydney Principles’) was developed by an International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF) Working Group to guide action on changing food and beverage marketing practices that target children. The aim of the present communication is to present the Sydney Principles and report on feedback received from a global consultation (Nove...
Chapter
It is appropriate to begin considerations of how one might approach obesity prevention with a view of the relevant landscape, at the center of which are those individuals who are overweight and obese as well as others at risk for becoming overweight and who may experience constant worry about weight. The statistics are alarming as indicated by figu...
Chapter
With the prevalence of obesity being at record levels and showing every indication of increasing descriptors such as “epidemic” and “crisis” seem justified (1). To prevent even more unnecessary death, disability, and damage to the nation’s collective well being, an honest analysis of cause is necessary; the factors contributing to the causes must b...
Article
Stress eating is a health behavior that has been overlooked in much of health psychology research. It is largely unknown why some tend to eat during or after stressful periods, whereas others tend to lose their appetite and lose weight. Furthermore, it is unknown if such transient changes in food intake or macronutrient composition during stress ha...
Article
To investigate the internalization of anti-fat bias among overweight individuals across a variety of attitudes and stereotypes. Two studies were conducted using the Implicit Association Test (IAT), a performance-based measure of bias, to examine beliefs among overweight individuals about 'fat people' vs 'thin people'. Study two also contained expli...
Article
The Director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders discusses the papers by Porter et al and Jeffrey and colleagues, arguing that managed care plans can-and should-take a greater role in preventing obesity.
Article
The stigma-producing effects of "before and after" diet advertisements on a healthy weight sample were examined. Subjects (n = 59) were exposed to a presentation containing either a "before and after" diet ad, or solely the "before" or "after" picture embedded in a different ad. Subjects were then given measures to assess negative attitudes and end...
Article
Widespread bias and discrimination based on weight have been documented in key areas of living, including education, employment, and health care. This paper examines the social and psychological origins of this bias through a review and critique of theoretical and empirical literatures, and proposes how the field might best advance in the area of r...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the distribution and individual characteristics of body types on prime-time television. Five episodes of each of the 10 top-rated prime-time fictional programs on 6 broadcast networks during the 1999-2000 season were quantitatively analyzed. Of 1018 major television characters, 14% of females and 24% of males were overweight or...
Article
To evaluate the effects of self-objectification on mood, motivation, and cognitive performance, 80 women either tried on a swimsuit (high objectification) or a sweater (low objectification). In addition, in order to investigate whether fat talk exacerbates the negative effects of self-objectification, half of each group overheard a confederate make...
Article
Full-text available
Three studies investigated implicit biases, and their modifiability, against overweight persons. In Study 1 (N = 144), the authors demonstrated strong implicit anti-fat attitudes and stereotypes using the Implicit Association Test, despite no explicit anti-fat bias. When participants were informed that obesity is caused predominantly by overeating...
Chapter
Research is clear in showing that obese individuals are highly stigmatized, and that bias and discrimination are often a consequence (1). Given that half the American population is overweight, the number of people potentially faced with discrimination and stigmatization is immense. The consequences of being denied jobs, disadvantaged in education,...
Article
Three studies investigated implicit biases, and their modifiability, against overweight persons. In Study 1 (N = 144), the authors demonstrated strong implicit anti-fat attitudes and stereotypes using the Implicit Association Test, despite no explicit anti-fat bias. When participants were informed that obesity is caused predominantly by overeating...
Article
Full-text available
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and other developed nations. In the United States, 27% of adults are obese and an additional 34% are overweight. Research in the past decade has shown that genetic influences clearly predispose some individuals to obesity. The marked increase in prevalence, however, appears to be attribu...
Article
This article reviews information on discriminatory attitudes and behaviors against obese individuals, integrates this to show whether systematic discrimination occurs and why, and discusses needed work in the field. Clear and consistent stigmatization, and in some cases discrimination, can be documented in three important areas of living: employmen...
Article
Full-text available
To investigate whether negative implicit attitudes and beliefs toward overweight persons exist among health professionals who specialize in obesity treatment, and to compare these findings to the implicit anti-fat bias evident in the general population. Health care professionals completed a series of implicit and explicit attitude and belief measur...
Article
To date, there are few known predictors of stress-induced eating. The purpose of this study was to identify whether physiological and psychological variables are related to eating after stress. Specifically, we hypothesized that high cortisol reactivity in response to stress may lead to eating after stress, given the relations between cortisol with...
Article
It has been said that obese persons are the last acceptable targets of discrimination.1-4 Anecdotes abound about overweight individuals being ridiculed by teachers, physicians, and complete strangers in public settings, such as supermarkets, restaurants, and shopping areas. Fat jokes and derogatory portrayals of obese people in popular media are co...
Article
The psychometric properties of a new scale that measures fearful cognitions associated with eating problems were explored, using two independent samples of undergraduate females. In Study 1, an exploratory factor analysis was conducted to revise and shorten the scale. Study 2 reproduced the factor structure and positive relationship between fearful...
Article
Excessive central fat puts one at greater risk of disease. In animal studies, stress-induced cortisol secretion has been shown to increase central fat. The objective of this study was to assess whether women with central fat distribution (as indicated by a high waist-to-hip ratio [WHR]), across a range of body mass indexes, display consistently hei...
Article
Associations between parent and child attitudes and behaviors related to eating and weight were examined among college-age men and women and their mothers and fathers (ns = 44, 47, 87, and 66, respectively). Parent attitudes and behaviors were assessed from the perspective of the parent and the student, and 2 pathways of influence were examined: mo...
Article
Health officials often wish to sponsor nutrition and other health promotion programs but are hampered by lack of funding. One source of funding is suggested by the fact that 18 states and 1 major city levy special taxes on soft drinks, candy, chewing gum, or snack foods. The tax rates may be too small to affect sales, but in some jurisdictions, the...
Article
This report describes associations between body mass index (BMI; kg/m2), eating attitudes, and affective symptoms across pregnancy and the postpartum period in a sample of 64 women. As part of a larger study, women were recruited during pregnancy and followed prospectively to 14 months postpartum. Measures included self-reported prepregnancy and 4-...
Article
Lifestyle change--most notably, modification of eating behavior, physical activity, and psychologic factors like attitudes, goals, and emotions--is the central determinant of whether people will lose weight and maintain the loss. Even when medical intervention appears to be the primary treatment, as with pharmacotherapy, behavior plays the determin...
Article
This study examined the effects of considering oneself to be masculine, feminine, or androgynous in appearance, of having friends who share one's gender and sexual orientation, and of affiliating with three subcommunities within the lesbian society on various aspects of body image. Self-report measures were obtained from 188 lesbian and bisexual fe...
Article
Objective This study examined the effects of considering oneself to be masculine, feminine, or androgynous in appearance, of having friends who share one's gender and sexual orientation, and of affiliating with three subcommunities within the lesbian society on various aspects of body image.Method Self-report measures were obtained from 188 lesbian...
Article
This study examined disordered eating, attitudes about weight and appearance, self-esteem, weight loss, and reasons for weight regain in a sample of white, black, Asian, and Hispanic female dieters. In this cross-sectional descriptive study, we scrutinized survey responses of a large number of households subscribing to Consumer Reports magazine. Fe...
Article
Behaviour is an important factor in both the aetiology and treatment of obesity. Successful long-term weight management ultimately depends on the ability of patients to change their behaviour patterns, particularly with regard to diet and exercise. Many patients find such changes extremely difficult to initiate and maintain. The failure to properly...
Article
Two measures of weight cycling and indexes of psychological functioning were examined in a large sample of dieters. History of weight cycling was assessed to include number of dieting attempts, total lifetime weight lost and regained, and number of weight cycles over 20 lb (9.1 kg). Experience of weight cycling measured perception of being a yo-yo...
Conference Paper
Two measures of weight cycling and indexes of psychological functioning were examined in a large sample of dieters. History of weight cycling was assessed to include number of dieting attempts, total lifetime weight lost and regained, and number of weight cycles over 20 lb (9.1 kg). Experience of weight cycling measured perception of being a yo-yo...
Article
To examine compliance with the guideline for dietary fat (i.e., 30% of total daily colonies) and covariates of fat intake in a cohort of adults using both 24-hour recall and food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Prospective, observational cohort study over 5 years. Community-based sample in Reno, Nevada. Equal numbers of male and female, lean and ove...
Article
The purpose of this study was to examine beliefs regarding reasons for weight gain, likely responses to weight loss relapse, notions of reasonable weight loss, and correlations between beliefs and attitudes in a large nonclinical sample of men and women with obesity. Participants were 3,394 white women (n=1,674) and men (n=1,720) with obesity who h...
Article
This study examined the association between motivations to run and eating disturbances in a sample of obligatory and nonobligatory runners. 240 males and 84 females were evaluated for running habits, motivations for running, and eating and weight concerns. 26.2% of the men and 25% of the women were classified as obligatory runners. Obligatory runne...
Article
The present study sought to examine the validity and utility of diagnostic criteria for binge-eating disorder (BED) by replicating and extending a study reported by de Zwaan and colleagues (International Journal of Eating Disorders, 15, 43-52, 1994). Four groups of obese individuals were selected from a large community-based sample of men and women...
Article
Juvenile obesity is a serious, increasingly prevalent problem in technologically developed societies. Almost one-quarter of U.S. children are now obese, a dramatic increase of over 20% in the past decade. It is intriguing that the increase in prevalence has been occurring while overall fat consumption has been declining. Body mass and composition a...
Article
This study tested the hypothesis that the relationship of psychosocial variables to body fat distribution would differ in men and women and would vary according to gender differences in natural patterns of fat distribution. Body fat distribution and psychological functioning were examined in 5,930 male and 7,598 female dieters. Upper body size and...
Article
The present study examined the relationship among weight, body dissatisfaction, and self-esteem in a large group of African American and white female dieters who were generally overweight and of middle to high socioeconomic status. Subjects were participants in a survey of dieting practices undertaken by Consumer Reports magazine. Major outcome mea...
Article
This study investigated the relationship between eating and weight behaviors and functioning in individuals' families of origin. Subjects were 237 women and 242 men enrolled in the RENO (Relationship of Energy, Nutrition, and Obesity) Diet-Heart Study, a prospective 5-year study of the effects of weight fluctuation on cardiovascular disease risk fa...
Article
Objective This study investigated the relationship between eating and weight behaviors and functioning in individuals' families of origin. Method: Subjects were 237 women and 242 men enrolled in the RENO (Relationship of Energy, Nutrition, and Obesity) Diet-Heart Study, a prospective 5-year study of the effects of weight fluctuation on cardiovascul...
Article
To study natural weight changes and to develop a weight classification system that can identify weight maintainers, gainers, and losers. DESIGN/OUTCOME: A prospective, observational study in which weight changes over five annual measurements were evaluated. In the weight classification system used, changes greater than 5 lb defined weight maintenan...
Article
In examining individuals with binge eating disorder (BED), we aimed to determine whether their binge eating preceded their first diet or their first diet preceded their binge eating, the age of their first diet, the age of their first binge, and the age when they met DSM-IV criteria for BED. Additionally, we aimed to identify psychological factors...
Article
Eating disorders and obesity are rising in prevalence and are problems of considerable public health significance. Prevailing treatments have a limited impact on public health because the disorders do not yield easily to intervention and because the treatments are costly and available to few. Shifting from a medical to a public health model argues...
Article
To assess body shape ideals across gender, sexual orientation, race, socio-economic status, and age, An analysis of personal advertisements was conducted across seven different publications which targeted the groups of interest. Women advertised body weight much less often than men, and lesbians reported body shape descriptors significantly less of...
Article
Preliminary research in the treatment of obesity suggests that group interventions may be at least as effective as individual interventions, presumably due to the social support created among individuals in the group. Given that a cost-effectiveness analysis may favor groups, further research is necessary on how the benefits of group process can be...
Article
Obesity is a significant health problem among black women in the United States. Black women are two to three times more likely than white women to be obese. The present study sought to examine race differences in attitudes and beliefs about dieting, motivations underlying dieting efforts, and actual dieting strategies and behaviors. To achieve this...
Article
Recent studies have suggested that weight changes may be related to disease risk independent of weight status. A critical step in testing this assertion is the measurement of weight change and so-called "weight cycling". However intuitive the concept of weight cycling may appear, research in this area is hampered by complex methodological issues. T...
Chapter
Obesity is a serious and prevalent problem (Brownell & Wadden, 1992). A recent study shows that 24% of men and 27% of women are at least 20% above desirable weight (Kuczmarski, 1992). Obesity tends to be especially prevalent among minority and low-socioeconomic-status populations (Ernst & Harlan, 1991; Sobal & Stunkard, 1989). The prevalence of obe...
Article
Using hip measurements as a constant, calculations were made to determine the changes necessary for a young, healthy adult woman and man to attain the same body proportions as Barbie and Ken dolls, respectively. Among the changes necessary were for the female to increase 24 in. in height, 5 in. in the chest, and 3.2 in. in neck length, while decrea...
Article
Exercise is clearly beneficial as a means for losing weight and keeping it off. Given recent studies showing its association with maintenance, it would be difficult to argue that any factor is more important than exercise. For an exercise program to be helpful for obese persons, the challenges of exercise adherence must be considered, as must the m...
Article
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the adequacy of dietary intake in 16 female heavyweight rowers during the sprint racing phase of the season. Caloric intake for the rowers was 2,633 kcal/day, lower than expected given the training regimen of these athletes. On average, rowers consumed below-optimal levels of carbohydrate. Protein intake wa...
Article
To characterize people who maintain weight over long periods of time, normal weight and obese adults (n=385) were studied over five annual visits. Subjects were classified using a ± 5 lb change between the first and the fifth year visits to determine overall maintenance (M), with gain (G) or loss (L) being any change outside this range. This MGL st...
Article
There has been increasing interest in the effects of chronic dieting and of repeated cycles of weight loss and regain in athletes. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the eating and weight loss practices, nutrition, and psychological factors in 45 male body builders competing in a drug-free competition. Subjects completed a questionnai...
Article
There has been increasing interest in the effects of chronic dieting and of repeated cycles of weight loss and regain in athletes. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the eating and weight loss practices, nutrition, and psychological factors in 45 male body builders competing in a drug-free competition. Subjects completed a questionnai...
Article
This investigation attempted to determine psychological correlates of weight fluctuation in a sample of 497 normal weight and obese adults who were enrolled in a prospective, natural history study. Subjects were stratified by gender, obesity, and age and classified as weight maintainers, gainers, or losers based on their changes in weight over a 1-...
Article
For identification of factors for matching individuals to treatments, experts in the field of obesity were surveyed about the indications and contraindications for 11 common approaches to weight loss. The experts provided 170 client characteristics as possible matching factors, yet only 5 factors were matched to specific programs by 50% or more of...
Article
Diet has an important impact not only on health but also on daily functioning, cognitive performance, and, perhaps, psychological well-being. Much is known about the specific dietary changes necessary to improve these factors, yet it becomes ever more clear that information about proper diet is rarely sufficient to change dietary behavior. Interven...
Article
Studies comparing obese and nonobese persons have generally failed to find differences in global aspects of psychological functioning (e.g., depression, anxiety). The resulting conclusion, that obesity does not carry risk for psychological problems, is inimical to clinical impression, reports from overweight individuals, and a consistent literature...
Article
In recent government reports, scientists have highlighted the link between diet and health and have concluded that dietary changes could reduce risks for some major chronic illnesses (ie, cancer and cardiovascular disease). As a result, the feasibility of lasting dietary change has become a central concern. Despite mixed findings from dietary adher...
Article
The stress-eating relationship was examined in a prospective study of 158 subjects who completed daily records of stress and eating for 84 days, yielding 16.188 person days of observation. Using both within-subjects and between-subjects analyses, individuals were much more likely to eat less than usual than to eat more than usual in response to str...
Article
An impassioned debate over the virtues and dangers of dieting is polarizing the field and diverts attention from key issues. Dieting clearly has costs and, for some, has the potential for benefit. The primary challenges are (a) to identify individuals who will be helped or harmed by dieting, (b) to reduce the frequency and severity of dieting in th...
Article
This article reviews studies on the effects of weight cycling and weight variability on metabolism, psychological status, morbidity, and mortality. Repeated bouts of weight loss and regain, known as weight cycling or yo-yo dieting, are highly prevalent, occur in males and females, and are common in both overweight and nonoverweight individuals. Whi...
Article
Weight dissatisfaction, dieting, and weight change, assessed by question-naires, were studied in 471 subjects stratified by gender, age (20-60+ years) and weight (normal/obese), participating in the RENO Diet Heart Study. Female and obese subjects had more weight dissatisfaction, dieting, and binges and were more overweight in adolescence. Females...
Article
We examined the relationship of the social self to body dissatisfaction and to binge eating in two clinical samples of obese females. In the first study, with 32 nonbingeing obese females, social self measures of Public Self-Consciousness and Social Anxiety were positively correlated with body dissatisfaction. Self-esteem was negatively correlated...
Article
To evaluate the relation between weight variability and death in high-risk, middle-aged men participating in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT). Cohort study with 3.8 years of follow-up. Multicenter, collaborative, primary prevention trial conducted at 22 clinical centers in the United States. Men (n = 10,529) who were 35 to 57 yea...
Article
Rowers compete in a sport that allows comparison of male and female athletes and where some (lightweight) but not others (heavyweights) must meet specific weight criteria. Eating attitudes, dieting patterns, weight fluctuation, and methods of weight loss were evaluated in 162 rowers: 82 heavyweights (56 females, 26 males) and 80 lightweights (17 fe...
Article
Antidieting sentiment is strengthened in part by the assumption that all diets fail, which in turn is based on data from university-based treatment programs. A small percentage of overweight people attempt to lose weight in these programs, and they differ in important ways from overweight people in general. They are heavier, more likely to be binge...
Article
The workshop provided the opportunity to discuss issues and develop and integrate ideas. The following recommendations for public policies, education programs, and high-priority research initiatives were developed: Recommendations for Public Policies: Focus on prevention by requiring school programs to emphasize appropriate diet, physical activity,...
Article
Obesity remains a leading public health problem because of its complications, prevalence, and resistance to change, despite record rates of dieting. Risk factors exist at both population and individual levels, thus obesity has diverse etiologies and consequences. Dieting is often grounded in the notion that the body can be molded at will and that t...
Article
Obesity is an important health problem. Despite record rates of dieting and the availability of numerous programs, the problem is not abating. This article discusses the popularity of fad diets, the safety and effectiveness of commonly used approaches to weight loss, and the health effects of weight change. We propose an approach in which the searc...
Article
We examined the association between level of exercise and degree of weight preoccupation in a large sample of male and female runners, as well as risk factors posited to influence weight and eating concerns in the general population. Subjects were 2,459 males and 1,786 females who had completed a questionnaire on weight and eating concerns in a nat...
Article
As dieting behavior and attempts at weight loss are becoming increasingly common in adolescent girls, we wished to determine whether early-onset repeated dieting influenced the development of obesity and its metabolic correlates. Female rats were fed a high-fat diet and subjected to six cycles of dieting and regain, beginning in the peripubertal pe...