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Brian Wansink of Cornell University

A Short Bio:

My mission for the last 25 years has been to change eating behavior.

I’m a behavioral scientist who changes the way we eat in a fun, painless, scalable, meet-people-where-they-are way. I believe this most easily happens without taking away choices, without finger-wagging, or without using the word “can’t.” “Can’t” doesn’t work very well for 90% of us — that’s the 90% I want to help. I love French food and French fries, and I love Cabernet and Diet Coke. We just have to help all of them fit better in our lives.

I’m a born and raised Midwesterner, but I’ve spent much of my life in either the SF Bay Area or as an East Coast professor in 3 Ivy League schools. Although I spend my free time playing with 3 silly daughters, playing terrible tenor sax in a rock band, and performing semi-terrible stand-up comedy, my obsessive mission is to change eating behaviors in homes, neighborhoods, and countries so that we eat less and we eat better.


A Long One:

Brian Wansink is the John Dyson Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He is the lead author of over 200 academic articles and books on eating behavior, including the best-selling Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (2006) along with Marketing Nutrition (2005), Asking Questions (2004), and Consumer Panels (2002).

He earned his Ph.D. in Consumer Behavior at Stanford (1990) and was marketing professor at the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College (1990–1994), the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (1994–1995), and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (1995–1997). He was the Julian Simon Faculty Scholar and Professor of Marketing, Nutritional Sciences and Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (1997–2005). After that, he moved to Cornell University as the John Dyson Endowed Chair at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

Wansink’s award-winning academic research on eating behavior, behavioral economics, and behavior change has been published in the world’s top marketing, medical, and nutrition journals. It contributed to the introduction of smaller “100 calorie” packages (to prevent overeating), the use of taller glasses in bars (to prevent the overpouring of alcohol), the use of elaborate names and mouth-watering descriptions in many chain restaurant menus (to improve enjoyment of the food), and the removal of 500 million calories from restaurants each year (via Unilever’s Seductive Nutrition program). These insights have been presented, translated, reported, and featured in television documentaries on every continent but Antarctica.

From 2007-2009 Wansink was granted a leave-of-absence from Cornell to accept a White House appointment as Executive Director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the Federal agency in charge of developing 2010 Dietary Guidelines and promoting the Food Guide Pyramid.

As the Director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, Dr. Wansink and his team focus on developing and disseminating transforming solutions that help people eat better. The lab’s research has driven the creation of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement and the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN) – two programs devoted to the funding, conduction, and dissemination of research concerning children’s health.

In his spare time, Dr. Wansink enjoys watching action/horror movies, playing the saxophone, and listening to Vanilla Ice’s hit song Ice, Ice, Baby.


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