Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

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Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA

Jennifer Harris

Dr. Jennifer Harris is Director of Marketing Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University where she is also a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology. She is responsible for the Rudd Center’s research initiatives to understand the extent and impact of children's exposure to food advertising and communicate that information to the health community, parents and policy makers.

Dr. Harris received her BA in Political Science from Northwestern University and her MBA in Marketing from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Before returning to graduate school, she worked for eighteen years as a business executive. As a Vice President in marketing at American Express, she gained experience in all consumer marketing functions including advertising, direct marketing, new product development, and customer relationship management. She then launched her own marketing consulting firm specializing in marketing strategy and new product and market development. Dr. Harris completed her PhD in Social Psychology at Yale University where she worked with Dr. John Bargh. Her dissertation research demonstrates the automatic effects of food advertising on snack food consumption and food preferences among elementary school children and young adults.

Dr. Harris' research focuses on marketing and public health, with an emphasis on unconscious effects of food marketing on behaviors, attitudes and motivation in children and adults. She has written on the psychological effects of food marketing to children and teens and the need to reduce unhealthy food marketing through public policy and advocacy.

Contact: (203) 432-4613;

In the News

Teen Weight Gain Predicted by Response to Food Commercials
Study shows that teens who respond more positively to food commercials are more likely to gain weight
MSN Health, September 2014

Internationally Renowned Rudd Center Moving To Uconn From Yale
Rudd Center announces move to Uconn
Hartford Courant, September 2014

Councilman Ben Kallos Wants To Set Stricter Standards For Kids' Meals That Come With Toys
NYC council member seeks to make kids' meals healthier
New York Daily News, August 2014

Coke, Pepsi Try To Fatten Bottom Line With Smaller Servings
Coke and Pepsi are begninning to offer more smaller serving size options
Reuters, August 2014

Stealth Health: Companies Hiding Cuts in Salt, Sugar And Fat
More companies are reducing unhealthy ingredients but not telling consumers about the change
Indiana Public Media, June 2014


Harris JL, LoDolce ME, Schwartz MB. Encouraging big food to do the right thing for children ’s health: a case study on using research to improve marketing of sugary cereals. Critical Public Health. 2014 Sept:1-14.

Harris JL, Fox T. Food and Beverage Marketing in Schools: Putting Student Health at the Head of the Class. JAMA Pediatrics. 2014 Jan:1-3.

Bragg MA, Yanamadala S, Roberto CA, Harris JL, Brownell KD. Athlete Endorsements in Food Marketing. Pediatrics. 2013 Oct:1-6.

Powell LM, Harris JL, Fox T. Food marketing expenditures aimed at youth: Putting the numbers in context. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013 Oct;45(4):1-9.

LoDolce ME, Harris JL, Schwartz MB. Sugar as part of a balanced breakfast? What cereal advertisements teach children about healthy eating. Journal of Health Communication. 2013 Aug:1-17.

Ustjanauskas AE, Harris JL, Schwartz MB. Food and beverage advertising on children's websites. Pediatric Obesity. 2013 July:1-11.

Milici FF, Harris JL, Sarda V, Schwartz MB. Amount of Hispanic Youth Exposure to Food and Beverage Advertising on Spanish-and-English Language Television. JAMA Pediatrics. 2013 June:1-7.

Gearhardt AN, Yokum S, Stice E, Harris JL, Brownell KB. Relation of obesity to neural activation in response to food commercials. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 2013 Apr.

Pomeranz JL, Munsell CR, Harris JL. Energy drinks: An emerging public health hazard for youth. Journal of Public Health Policy. 2013 Mar;14:1-8.

Harris JL, Sarda V, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Redefining “child-directed advertising” to reduce unhealthy television food advertising. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013 Mar;44(4):358-364.


Examining Trends in Schoolhouse Commercialism
Host: Jennifer Harris, Guest(s): Faith Boninger
Research Associate, National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado Boulder

The Politics of Public Health Policy
Host: Jennifer Harris, Guest(s): William Spencer
Suffolk County Legislator

Innovations in SNAP: Merit Goods and Healthy Incentives
Host: Jennifer Harris, Guest(s): Parke Wilde
Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University

Press Releases

3/5/14: Rudd report shows that children need to be protected from unhealthy food marketing until at least age 14
Current food marketing practices present a significant public health threat for older children and teens, according to a report recently released by the Rudd Center. The report suggests that children ages 12 to 14 are highly vulnerable to influence from unhealthy food marketing, and policy solutions are needed to protect children until at least age 14.

11/5/13: Fast food companies still target kids with marketing for unhealthy products
In 2012 the fast food industry spent $4.6 billion to advertise mostly unhealthy products, and children and teens remained key audiences for that advertising, according to a new report by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The report highlights a few positive developments, such as healthier sides and beverages in most restaurants’ kids’ meals, but also shows that restaurants still have a long way to go to promote only healthier fast-food options to kids.

10/7/13: Unhealthy food marketed to youth through athlete endorsements
Professional athletes are often paid large amounts of money to endorse commercial products. But the majority of the food and beverage brands endorsed by professional athletes are for unhealthy products like sports beverages, soft drinks, and fast food, according to a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. The study appears in the November issue of Pediatrics.

7/8/13: Foods advertised on popular children's websites do not meet nutrition standards
Despite food company pledges to advertise only healthier foods to children, a Yale Rudd Center study finds that companies place billions of ads for unhealthy foods and beverages on children’s websites. The study is the first to evaluate banner and other display advertising on websites that are popular with children, such as and The study is published online in Pediatric Obesity and was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

3/12/13: Industry self-regulation permits junk food ads in programming popular with children
Loopholes in industry self-regulation allow food companies to continue to reach large numbers of children with advertising for unhealthy products — such as fast food, candy, and cookies — during “tween” programs and popular children’s holiday specials. The study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.