hero image
Marlene Schwartz, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Marlene Schwartz, Ph.D. Marlene Schwartz, Ph.D.

Director, Rudd Center for Obesity & Food Policy (Principal Investigator); Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies | University of Connecticut


Dr. Schwartz specializes in school wellness and nutrition programs, and food insecurity.


Dr. Schwartz is Director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies. Dr. Schwartz’s research and community service address how home environments, school landscapes, neighborhoods, and the media shape the eating attitudes and behaviors of children.

Dr. Schwartz earned her PhD in Psychology from Yale University in 1996. Prior to joining the Rudd Center, she served as Co-Director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders from 1996 to 2006. She has collaborated with the Connecticut State Department of Education to evaluate nutrition and physical activity policies in schools and preschools throughout the state. She co-chaired the Connecticut Obesity Task Force and has provided expert testimony on obesity-related state policies. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Food Bank.

Dr. Schwartz has received research grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health to study school wellness policies, the preschool nutrition environment, the effect of food marketing on children, the relationship between food insecurity and nutrition, and how federal food programs can improve the accessibility and affordability of healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods. In 2014, Dr. Schwartz received the Sarah Samuels Award from the Food and Nutrition Section of the American Public Health Association. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has profiled Dr. Schwartz’s life and career.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Nutrition in Food Programs Food Insecurity Nutrition School Food Options

Education (1)

Yale University: Ph.D., Psychology 1996







Panel 1: Marlene Schwartz and Lori Dorfman Overview of School Food and Wellness by Marlene Schwartz, PhD


Media Appearances (1)

Moby caught flak for saying food stamps shouldn’t pay for junk food. But he’s right.

Washington Post  print


With SNAP, as with so many political issues, polarization is off the charts. According to Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut, “distrust among the parties involved . . . has become toxic and has effectively stalled all efforts by policymakers to change the regulations concerning SNAP to include nutrition standards.”

view more

Articles (5)

Student Acceptance of Plain Milk Increases Significantly 2 Years after Flavored Milk Is Removed from School Cafeterias: An Observational Study Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Background: Previous studies document decreases in lunchtime milk consumption immediately after flavored milk is removed. Less is known about longer-term effects.

view more

The Application of Defaults to Optimize Parents' Health-Based Choices for Children Appetite


Optimal defaults is a compelling model from behavioral economics and the psychology of human decision-making, designed to shape or “nudge” choices in a positive direction without fundamentally restricting options. The current study aimed to test the effectiveness of optimal (less obesogenic) defaults and parent empowerment priming on health-based decisions with parent-child (ages 3–8) dyads in a ...

view more

Association of a Community Campaign for Better Beverage Choices With Beverage Purchases From Supermarkets JAMA Internal Medicine


Importance: Data are needed to evaluate community interventions to reduce consumption of sugary drinks. Supermarket sales data can be used for this purpose.

Objective: To compare beverage sales in Howard County, Maryland (HC), with sales in comparison stores in a contiguous state before and during a 3-year campaign to reduce consumption of sugary beverages.

view more

Appetite Self-Regulation: Environmental and Policy Influences on Eating Behaviors Obesity


Objective: Appetite regulation is influenced by the environment, and the environment is shaped by food-related policies. This review summarizes the environment and policy research portion of an NIH Workshop (Bethesda, MD, 2015) titled “Self-Regulation of Appetite—It's Complicated.”

view more

School Breakfast and Body Mass Index: A Longitudinal Observational Study of Middle School Students Paediatric Obesity


Objectives: The objectives are to identify breakfast location patterns (frequency and place of breakfast consumption) and explore the association between breakfast patterns and weight status over time among preadolescents.

view more