Back to top

Brian Wansink

Brian Wansink


475H Warren Hall
(607) 254-6302

Brian Wansink, is Professor and Director of the famed Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, where he is a leading expert in changing eating behavior – both on an individual level and on a mass scale -- using principles of behavioral science. He is the author of Mindless Eating and Slim by Design (which have been translated into over 25 languages) as well as over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles. From 2007 until 2009 he was appointed by the White House to be the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion Executive Director in charge of the Dietary Guidelines for 2010 and the Food Guide Pyramid ( He received his PhD from Stanford, and is a former bad open-mic comic and rock sax player. He lives with his wife and three girls in Ithaca, New York, where he enjoys both French food and French fries.

Research Focus

The Mission of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab is this: “We change how food is purchased, prepared, and consumed. Using new tools of behavioral science, we invent healthy eating solutions for consumers, companies, and communities. We invent, redesign, and empower.” We invent solutions for companies to help consumers eat healthier (100-calorie packs, new products, new positioning, new markets). On a mass scale we help redesign cafeterias, grocery stores, restaurants, homes, and workplaces to make it profitably easier for consumers to eat healthier. We empower consumers to make small changes and nudges that improve their eating habits and the health of their families. Each year we publish 20+ new ideas in academic journals, and we appear in media around the world.

Outreach and Extension Focus

As noted above, “We change how food is purchased, prepared, and consumed. Using new tools of behavioral science, we invent healthy eating solutions for consumers, companies, and communities. We invent, redesign, and empower.” At the Food and Brand Lab, we focus on programs that are scalable (like the Smarter Lunchroom Movement approach – now in 30,000+ US schools), and we aggressively disseminate our findings through outreach partners and the media.

Teaching Focus

There are four objectives that I incorporate into my planning for a course and in my preparation for each class session. I call them the 4-Cs: 1. Critical thinking, 2. Curiosity, 3. Character, and 4. Community. My goal each day is to change a student’s thinking and outlook in a way that elevates their life and the lives of others.

Awards and Honors

  • President (2012) Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior
  • Person of the Week (2008) ABC World News
  • "Fit-50" (2008) Fitness Magazine
  • Ig Nobel Prize in Nutrition – Annals of Improbable Research (2007) Harvard University
  • Distinguished Leadership Award (1991) United Negro College Fund

Selected Publications

Journal Publications


  • Wansink, B. (2006). Mindless Eating – Why We Eat More Than We Think. Bantam-Dell, New York, NY.
  • Wansink, B. (2005). Marketing Nutrition – Soy, Functional Foods, Biotechnology, and Obesity. University of Illinois Press, Champaign, IL.
  • Bradburn, N. M., Sudman, S., & Wansink, B. (2004). Asking Questions: The Definitive Guide to Questionnaire Design – For Market Research, Political Polls, and Social and Health Questionnaires. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Presentations and Activities

  • Slim by Design. Annual Meeting of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). July 2014. Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). Minneapolis, MN.
  • Slim by Design. Stockholm Food Forum. May 2014. Stordalen Foundation. Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Keynote: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. SHOK Summit. May 2014. SHOK Program. Helsinki, Finland.
  • Helping Children Become Slim By Design. 8th Annual Michael & Susan Dell Lectureship in Child Health. April 2014. Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living - University of Texas at Austin. Austin, TX.
  • The Influence of Environmental Cues on Health Behaviors: Mindless Eating. Applying Social Science Insights to Improve Public Health. April 2014. Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies - School of Public Health. Cambridge, MA.
  • Mindless Eating. EAT Foundation Symposium. March 2014. EAT Foundation. Boston, MA.
  • Changing the World One Meal at a Time. Fall Master of Marketing Research Advisory Board Meeting. November 2013. Coca-Cola Center for Marketing Studies -- University of GA. Athens, GA.
  • Slim by Design: From Mindless Eating to Mindlessly Eating Better. 30th Annual Meeting of the ASMBS at Obesity Week-- Integrated Health Session. November 2013. American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. Atlanta, GA.
  • Keynote Lecture: The Smarter Lunchroom Movement. World Social Marketing Conference 2013. April 2013. World Social marketing Conference. Toronto, Canada.
  • Lynch-Weiss Visit - CU Alumni from the greater NY city area. October 2011. Cornell Alumni Affairs Office. Ithaca, NY.