Toben F Nelson ScD » Faculty

Research Interests:Health policy, organizational change, health behavior during developmental transitions, influence of sports participation on health, social determinants of health, program evaluation, prevention of alcohol-attributable harm, physical activity promotion, o

Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Community Health

Work Div. Epidemiology & Community Health 1300 S. 2nd Street Suite 300 Minneapolis MN 55454 Work Phone: 612-626-9791 Website: Every Day - Toben Nelson Website: Healthy Youth Sports Study Website: Alcohol Epidemiology Program Website: Project ScOPE - School Obesity-related Policy Evaluation Website: Minnesota Child Welfare Research Collaborative Website: Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study
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  • ScD (Public Health), Harvard University
  • MS (Kinesiology), University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • BA (Psychology & Physical Education), Hamline University

Courses Taught

  • PubH 6020 Fundamentals of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • PubH 6078 Public Health Policy as a Prevention Strategy
    (with J. Forster and T. Toomey)
  • PubH 6333 Human Behavior I


Alcohol, Alcohol: Policy, Alcohol: Prevention, Behavior & Health, Child / Adolescent Health, Community Intervention, Community-Based Research, Epidemiology: Social, Injuries / Injury Prevention, Obesity, Obesity: Adult, Obesity: Child, Physical Activity, Policy / Politics, Surveys, Tobacco, Tobacco: Policy, Tobacco: Prevention

Professional Experience:

  • 2013 – present – Associate Professor, Div. of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota
  • 2007-2013 – Assistant Professor, Div. of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota
  • 2005-2007 – Research Associate, Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity, Harvard School of Public Health


  • 2012 – U.S. Department of Education Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Violence Prevention, Center Fellow
  • 2010 – Injury Prevention Fellow, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • 2010 – Impact Award, Youth Determined to Succeed
  • 2008 – Highly cited author on underage/college drinking 1998-2008, Essential Science Indicators: Thomson Reuters
  • 2008 – Most Influential Research Articles of 2008, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • 2006 – Senior Scholar in Prevention, Outside the Classroom
  • 1991 – Kent Bracewell Senior Athlete Scholar Award, Hamline University
  • 1990 – Donald Swanson Award, Outstanding Junior in Psychology, Hamline University

Selected Publications:

  • Nelson TF, Xuan Z, Babor T, Brewer RD, Chaloupka FJ, Gruenewald P, Holder H, Klitzner M, Mosher J, Ramirez RL, Reynolds R, Toomey TL, Churchill V, Naimi TS. Efficacy and strength-of-evidence of U.S. alcohol control policies.  American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2013; 45(1): 19-28.
  • Jones-Webb R, Nelson TF, McKee PA, Toomey TL An implementation model to improve the effectiveness of alcohol control policies. American Journal of Health Promotion, 2014, 28(5): 328-335.
  • Toomey TL, Nelson TF, Winters KC, Miazga M, Lenk KM, Erickson DJ. Characterizing college systems for addressing student alcohol use:  Latent class analysis of U.S four-year colleges. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2013 Sep;74(5):777-86.
  • Nelson TF, Winters KC, and Hyman V. Preventing Binge Drinking on College Campuses: A Guide to Best Practices. Hazeldon Publishing, Center City, MN, 2012.
  • Gortmaker SL, Lee RM, Mozaffarian RS, Sobol A, Nelson TF, Roth BA, Wiecha JL. Impact of an after school intervention on increases in physical activity among children. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 44(3): 450-457, 2012.
  • Nelson TF, Stovitz S, Thomas M, LaVoi N, Bauer K., Neumark-Sztainer D. Do youth sports prevent pediatric obesity? A systematic review and commentary. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 10(6): 360-370, 2011
  • Nelson TF, Toomey TL, Erickson DJ, Lenk KM, Winters KC. Implementation of NIAAA college drinking task force recommendations: How are colleges doing 6 years later?, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 34(10): 1687-1693, 2010.
  • Nelson TF, Lenk KM, Xuan Z, Wechsler H. Student drinking at U.S. collegiate sports events, Substance Use and Misuse, 45(12): 1861-1873, 2010.
  • Mozaffarian RS, Wiecha JL, Roth BA, Nelson TF, Lee RM, and Gortmaker SL. Impact of an organizational intervention designed to improve snack and beverage quality in YMCA after-school programs  Am J Public Health, 100(5): 925-932, 2010.
  • Wiecha JL, Nelson TF, Roth BA, Glashagel J, Vaughan L. Disseminating health promotion practices in afterschool programs through YMCA learning collaborative. Am J Health Promot, 24(3):190-198, 2010.
  • Nanney MS, Nelson TF, Wall M, Haddad T, Kubik M, Nelson MC, Story M.  State school nutrition and physical activity policy environments and youth obesity, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 38(1):9-16, 2010.
  • Nelson TF, Xuan Z, Lee H, Weitzman ER, and Wechsler H. The persistence of high binge drinking levels, alcohol related problems and secondhand effects among students attending heavy drinking colleges, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 70(5):726-734, 2009.
  • Wechsler H, and Nelson, TF. What we have learned from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study: focusing attention on college student alcohol consumption and the environmental conditions that promote it.  J Stud Alcohol Drugs, 69(4):481-490, 2008.
  • Nelson TF, Gortmaker SL, Subramanian SV, and Wechsler H. Vigorous physical activity among college students in the United States, J Phys Act Health, 4:495-508, 2007.
  • Nelson TF, LaBrie RA, LaPlante DA, Stanton M, Shaffer HJ, and Wechsler H. Sports betting and other gambling in athletes, fans and other college students, Res Q Exerc Sports, 78(4):271-83, 2007.
  • McCabe SE, Brower KJ, West B, Nelson, TF and Wechsler H. Trends in nonmedical use of anabolic steroids by U.S. college students: Results from four national surveys, Drug Alcohol Depend, 90(2-3):243-51, 2007.
  • Nelson TF, Gortmaker SL, Subramanian SV, Cheung L, and Wechsler H. Disparities in overweight and obesity among U.S. college students, Am J Health Behav, 31(4):363-73, 2007.
  • Nelson TF, Weitzman ER, and Wechsler H. The effect of a campus-community environmental alcohol prevention initiative on student drinking and driving: results from the “A Matter of Degree” program evaluation. Traffic Inj Prev. 6(4):323-330, 2005.
  • Nelson TF, Naimi TS, Brewer RD, and Wechsler H. The state sets the rate: The relationship of college binge drinking to state binge drinking rates and state alcohol control policies. Am J Public Health, 95:441-446, 2005.
  • Weitzman ER, Nelson TF, Lee H, and Wechsler, H. Reducing drinking and related harms in college: Evaluation of the “A Matter of Degree” program. Am J Prev Med, 21(3): 187-196, 2004.
  • Nelson, T.F. and Wechsler H. School spirits: Alcohol and collegiate sports fans. Addict Behav, 28:1-11, 2003.
  • Wechsler H., Lee JE, Kuo M, Seibring M, Nelson, TF, and Lee H. Trends in college binge drinking during a period of increased prevention efforts: Findings from four Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study Surveys: 1993-2001. J Am Coll, 50:203-217, 2002.
  • Nelson, TF and Wechsler H. Alcohol and college athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33:43-7, 2001.
  • Wechsler H., and Nelson, TF. Binge drinking and the American college student: What’s five drinks? Psych Addict Behav, 15:287-291, 2001.