School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Dr Emma Haycraft BSc, PhD, FHEA

Photo of Dr Emma Haycraft

Emma is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology.  She obtained both her BSc and PhD degrees from the University of Birmingham.  She joined Loughborough University as a Lecturer in Psychology in September 2007.  Emma lectures on the Loughborough Psychology undergraduate degree programmes where she leads modules relating to developmental psychology, social psychology, and parenting and socialisation.  Emma also supervises undergraduate and postdoctoral (PhD) students with their research projects.  Emma is currently the Psychology Learning and Teaching Discipline Group leader for the School, as well as the Staff-Student Coordinator for the BSc Psychology undergraduate degree programme.

Emma’s research focuses on caregiver-child interactions, particularly in the context of feeding, eating and mealtimes.  Emma researches children’s eating behaviours (e.g., discovering effective ways to help children to eat more healthily), as well as caregiver feeding practices (e.g., identifying successful methods of supporting parents/caregivers with child feeding).  Emma is also interested in health-promotion interventions.  Recent work in this domain includes ‘Kids FIRST’, a British Heart Foundation funded project looking at ways to reduce the co-occurrence of sedentary screen-viewing behaviour and unhealthy snacking in young children.  Emma also conducts research which looks at parenting around physical activity as well as the influence of peers and external factors on eating behaviours throughout childhood and adolescence.  She has led a variety of research projects in the area of eating behaviours/disorders in children, adolescents and adults, and is also interested in body image and activity levels in transgender individuals.

Emma’s research interests include:

  • children’s eating behaviours
  • health-promoting interventions (e.g., regarding eating, physical activity, body dissatisfaction)
  • childhood obesity/overweight
  • fathers’ roles in child feeding
  • peer influences on eating behaviours
  • eating and exercise in children and adolescents
  • young mothers’ infant feeding decisions
  • parenting styles and practices
  • mental health and parenting practices
  • body image and physical activity in transgender individuals

Emma is a co-developer of the Child Feeding Guide; an evidence-based website and free mobile app aimed at supporting caregivers with a fussy or difficult child to achieve healthy, happy mealtimes.  The Child Feeding Guide won the Social Impact award at the 2014 Loughborough University Enterprise Awards and is disseminated by the NHS and the British Heart Foundation.  Following the successful delivery of the Child Feeding Guide ‘Tips and Tools for Childcare/Health Professionals’ workshops, these are currently being extended as e-learning courses.

Selected Recent Research Projects and Sources of Funding

  • Family Mealtime Observation Study (FaMOS): Understanding associations between parent feeding practices and children’s dietary intake among Canadian families with pre-schoolers.  Funded by the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research.  Kathryn Walton, Dr Emma Haycraftand Dr JessHaines  (2016-2018). 
  • 5-a-day fillers:  Development and preliminary validation of a mobile app to increase children’s exposure to, and liking of, vegetables.  Higher Education Innovation Funding (via De Montfort University).  Dr Helen Coulthard, Dr Claire Farrow and Dr Emma Haycraft (2016)
  • The Feeding Your Baby manual: A psychoeducational approach to promoting breastfeeding – Dissemination and website development.  Higher Education Innovation Funding (via Loughborough University Enterprise Project Group).  Dr Gemma Witcomb and Dr Emma Haycraft (2014-15). 
  • Kids FIRST: Development and Feasibility of a Family-based Intervention to ReduceSnacking and Screen Time in Children.  Funded by the British Heart Foundation.  Dr Emma Haycraft, Dr Natalie Pearson (co-PIs), Professor Stuart Biddle, Sonia McGeorge and Dr Paula Griffiths (2013-16).
  • Motivated not manipulated: Using psychoeducation to increase mothers' underlying motivation to breastfeed.  British Academy Small Grant.  Dr Emma Haycraft and Dr Gemma Witcomb (2013-14).
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy; June 2010 – present
  • Special Graduate Faculty Member, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph, Canada
  • Honorary Faculty Member of the NIHR Leicester–Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit
  • Member of the British Feeding and Drinking Group; 2008-present.
  • Member of the Association for Psychological Science (2016; member ID: 116884).
  • Review editor for ‘Eating Behavior’ – part of the ‘Frontiers in Psychology, Psychiatry and Nutrition’ journal.
  • Regular reviewer for a number of academic journals including: Appetite; Child: Care, Health & Development;  Eating Behaviors; European Eating Disorders Review; International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity; International Journal of Eating Disorders; International Journal of Obesity; Pediatric Obesity; Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry; Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior; Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition; Nutrition; Pediatrics; The Journal of Health Psychology.
  • External examiner (PhD/ClinPsyD):  La Trobe University, Australia; University of Leeds, UK; University of East Anglia, UK; Adelaide University, Australia; Deakin University, Australia; Massey University, Albany, New Zealand.

Emma has authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications.  Recent examples include:

  • Holley, C.E., Farrow, C., & Haycraft, E. (in press, 2016).  Investigating offering of vegetables by caregivers of preschool age children.  Child: Care, Health and Development,
  • Powell, F., Farrow, C., Meyer, C. & Haycraft, E. (in press, 2016).  The importance of mealtime structure for reducing child food fussiness.  Maternal and Child Nutrition. DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12296
  • Wales, J., Brewin, N., Cashmore, R., Haycraft, E., Baggott, J., Cooper, A., & Arcelus, J. (2016).  Predictors of positive treatment outcome in people with anorexia nervosa treated in a specialized inpatient unit: The role of early response to treatment. European Eating Disorders Review, 24(5), 417-424DOI: 10.1002/erv.2443
  • Holley, C.E., Farrow, C., & Haycraft, E. (2016).  Investigating the role of parent and child characteristics in healthy eating intervention outcomes.  Appetite, 105, 291-7.  DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.05.038
  • Goodwin, H., Haycraft, E., & Meyer, C. (2016).  Disordered eating, compulsive exercise and sport participation in a UK adolescent sample.  European Eating Disorders Review, 24(4), 304-9. DOI: 10.1002/erv.2441
  • Houldcroft, L., Farrow, C., & Haycraft, E. (2016). Eating behaviours of preadolescent children over time: Stability, continuity and the moderating role of perceived parental feeding practices. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13, 437. doi:10.3390/ijerph13040437 (Open access)
  • Jones, B.A., Haycraft, E., Murjan, S. & Arcelus, J. (2016).  Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in trans people: A systematic review of the literature.  International Review of Psychiatry, 28(1), 81-94.
  • Houldcroft, L., Haycraft, E. & Farrow, C. (2015). Social and individual influences on eating in preadolescents: The role of friends’ eating behaviours and individual anxiety and depression.Advances in Pediatric Research, 2:22.  (online, open access)
  • Farrow, C., Haycraft, E. & Blissett, J. (2015).  Teaching our children when to eat: how parental feeding practices inform the development of emotional eating. A longitudinal experimental design. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101(5), 908-913.
  • Bergmeier, H.J., Skouteris, H., Haycraft, E., Haines, J., & Hooley, M. (2015). Reported and observed controlling feeding practices predict child eating behaviour after 12 months. The Journal of Nutrition, 145(6), 1311-1316doi: 10.3945/jn.114.206268
  • Holley, C.E., Haycraft, E. & Farrow, C. (2015).  'Why don't you try it again?' A comparison of parent led, home based interventions aimed at increasing children's consumption of a disliked vegetable.  Appetite, 87, 215-222. 10.1016/j.appet.2014.12.216
  • White, H.J., Haycraft, E., Wallis, D.J., Arcelus, J., Leung, N., & Meyer, C. (2015).  Development of the Mealtime Emotions Measure for adolescents (MEM-A): Gender differences in emotional responses to family mealtimes and eating psychopathology.  Appetite, 85, 76-83.
  • White, H.J., Haycraft, E., Madden, S., Rhodes, P., Miskovic-Wheatley, J., Wallis, A., Kohn, M., & Meyer, C. (2015).  How do parents of adolescent patients with anorexia nervosa interact with their child at mealtimes? A study of parental strategies used in the family meal session of Family-Based Treatment.  International Journal of Eating Disorders, 48, 72-80DOI: 10.1002/eat.22328
  • Haycraft, E., Powell, F. & Meyer, C. (2015).  Activity-related parenting practices: Development of the Parenting Related to Activity Measure (PRAM) and links with mothers’ eating psychopathology and compulsive exercise beliefs.  European Eating Disorders Review, 23, 51-61DOI: 10.1002/erv.2331
  • Palfreyman, Z., Haycraft, E., & Meyer, C. (2015).  Parental modelling of eating behaviours: observational validation of the Parental Modelling of Eating Behaviours Scale (PARM).  Appetite, 86, 31-37.DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.08.008