Eating disorders and behaviours
The School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences is committed to conducting internationally renowned research into eating behaviours and clinical and sub-clinical eating disorders through the Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders and behaviours (LUCRED).
LUCRED is formed of academic staff and PhD researchers from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.
LUCRED researchers regularly engage in the following activities:
- Conducting world-leading research
- Influencing policymakers both nationally and internationally
- Publishing research in international academic journals
- Presenting research at international conferences
- Commercialising research for widespread real-world impact
- Collaborating with internal and external stakeholders in research and enterprise projects
- Leading psychology modules and teaching
- Hosting guest researchers in monthly seminars
- Holding regular research group meetings
Follow the latest updates from LUCRED on Twitter: @Lboro_LUCRED
To discuss opportunities to work with our LUCRED researchers, or if you are interested in a research internship or a self-funded PhD with us, please visit our researcher’s staff profile pages to contact them.
LUCRED researchers conduct a broad range of cutting-edge research into eating behaviour and eating disorders. LUCRED researchers investigate and answer fundamental questions on the psychology of eating behaviour to make a real-world impact, improving the health and wellbeing of children and adults.
LUCRED researchers specialise in quantitative and qualitative research including experimental, correlational and descriptive methods and an array of study designs.
Current research specialisms include:
- Exercise and eating disorders; including the development of new evidence-based measurement and management approaches.
- Prevention, identification and management of disordered eating in athletes.
- Infant and child feeding, including parent and caregiver feeding decisions and practices.
- Eating behaviours in children and adolescents, including developing interventions to promote healthy food intake.
- Parental cognition and mental health in relation to obesity, eating and feeding disorders among children.
- Mealtime factors and mealtime interaction within the eating disorders; including experimental assessment of environmental factors.
- Food insecurity and its impact on children’s eating behaviour and health.
- The impact of pre-meal decisions on food choice, portion selection and food intake in adults and children.
LUCRED research is funded by a range of organisations, including the Economic and Social Research Council, UK Medical Research Council, the British Academy, UK Nutrition Partnership, Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Midlands innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator (MICRA).
Below are a selection of papers and press releases involving our LUCRED researchers.
- Scott, C. L., Haycraft, E. & Plateau, C. R. (2021). The influence of social networks within sports teams on athletes’ eating and exercise psychopathology: A longitudinal study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 52, 101786, DOI: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2020.101786
- Barutcu, A., Briasco, E., Moon, J. Stensel, D. J., King, J. A., Witcomb, G. L., & James, L. J. (2021). Planned morning aerobic exercise in a fasted state increases energy intake in the preceding 24 hours. European Journal of Nutrition. DOI: 10.1007/s00394-021-02501-7
- Haycraft, E., Witcomb, G. L. & Farrow, C. (2020) The Child Feeding Guide: A digital health intervention for reducing controlling child feeding practices and maternal anxiety over time. Nutrition Bulletin, 45(4), 474-482, DOI: 10.1111/nbu.12445.
- McLeod, C. J., James, L. J. & Witcomb, G., L. (2020). Eating rate and food intake are reduced when a food is presented in an ‘unusual’ meal context. Appetite, 154, 104799, DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2020.104799.
- White, H. J., Haycraft, E., Williamson, I., & Meyer, C. (2020). Disturbance at the dinner table: Exploring mothers' experiences of mealtimes when caring for their son or daughter with anorexia nervosa. Journal of health psychology, 1359105320904756. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1177/1359105320904756
- Holley, C. E., Haycraft, E. & Farrow, C. (2020). Unpacking the relationships between positive feeding practices and children's eating behaviours: The moderating role of child temperament. Appetite, 147, 104548, DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104548
- Sandgren, S. S., Haycraft, E., & Plateau, C. R. (2020). Nature and efficacy of interventions addressing eating psychopathology in athletes: A systematic review of randomised and nonrandomised trials. European eating disorders review: the journal of the Eating Disorders Association, 28(2), 105–121. DOI: 10.1002/erv.2704
- Physical activity, Transitions, nutrition and appetitE regulation (PLATE): An interdisciplinary perspective
- Barbie at 60: instrument of female oppression or positive influence?
- Why people with eating disorders are often obsessed with food
- Study highlights the physical and psychological rewards of breastfeeding for Mum
- Experts in Sport: Disordered eating - just how common is it in elite level sport?
- Emotional and social characteristics of young children can impact the success of positive feeding practices
- Five lockdown lessons for helping fussy eating youngsters (VIDEO)
- Tracking lifestyles over the course of a pandemic: New coronavirus survey aims to understand more about current and future health and wellbeing
- Parents! How to prepare a perfectly nutritious primary school packed lunch for your kids this New Year
- Fitness trackers and eating disorders – is there a link?
- New Government scheme aimed at tackling child hunger could be a giant boost for alleviating food poverty in Britain, according to Loughborough University expert
The LUCRED team is composed of highly skilled and experienced researchers with an array of specialisms in the field of eating behaviour. Please visit their individual profiles for more information.
If you would like to collaborate with our researchers, engage in consultancy or discuss potential PhD projects, please contact them using the information on their staff profile.
- Dr Emma Haycraft – Reader in Psychology
- Dr Clare Holley – Lecturer in Psychology
- Dr Chris McLeod – University Teacher in Psychology
- Dr Carolyn Plateau – Senior Lecturer in Psychology
- Dr Hannah White – Lecturer in Psychology
- Dr Gemma Witcomb – Senior Lecturer in Psychology
The main aim of the research undertaken at LUCRED is to deliver real-world impact, to change the lives of people across the globe.
Through the work undertaken by our researchers, various commercial products, policy recommendations and healthy eating behaviour strategies have been created and disseminated to various stakeholders.
Here are some examples of where our research has had an impact:
- Child Feeding Guide – an evidence-based support resource designed to help caregivers with feeding young children. Available as a website, a free mobile app, and delivered as training courses for parents/caregivers, childcare staff and health professionals.
- Vegetable Maths Masters – a free, fun maths app using vegetables. Children can practise maths skills whilst playing with real images of vegetables. The app is designed to support maths and, at the same time, encourage healthy eating.
- Baby Feeding – a workbook and related teacher manual designed to be used with young people to challenge negative beliefs and attitudes about breastfeeding and encourage both pregnant and non-pregnant teenagers to think about methods of feeding babies.
- Reducing compulsive exercise among eating disorder patients – the development of the Compulsive Exercise Test (CET) and the Loughborough Eating Disorders Activity Programme (LEAP).
- Disordered Eating in Athletes (DEIA): Coach and athlete educational coaching, workshops and resources for the prevention, early identification and management of disordered eating in athletes and sport. Also included in Translating-Knowledge-and-Research-into-Impact-Brochure (pp. 24-25).
The LUCRED laboratory is designed for the study of human appetite, individual differences in eating behaviour, and factors associated with the development and maintenance of eating disorders.
The laboratory, located in the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine building, consists of a fitted kitchen, individual testing booths and two social eating spaces.
One of the social eating spaces is a child-friendly eating area which also includes a play area complete with an array of toys. Both of the social eating spaces are set up with a one-way mirror and a series of camcorders which enable children’s eating behaviours and play activities to be monitored (by caregivers and researchers) unobtrusively.
The kitchen contains food storage, refrigeration and cooking facilities, and equipment for the preparation, weighing and serving of foods. Weighing scales and a stadiometer permit the accurate measurement of weight and height in order that body mass index (BMI) can be calculated.
The individual testing cubicles are designed to allow privacy during eating episodes and completion of questionnaires. In addition, the laboratory has eye-tracking technology and a bespoke eating table with a balance scale concealed under a placemat to covertly monitor food intake during a meal. This concealed balance scale is connected to the Sussex Ingestion Pattern Monitor (SIPM) software to allow for participants to engage with various psychometric measures throughout the eating session.
Other equipment includes a wide variety of psychometric measures to assess mood state, somatic sensations, personality factors, stress, depression, and individual differences in eating behaviour. These extensive facilities enable examination of a variety of factors that can influence eating behaviour and food choice.
Research participation sign up
LUCRED researchers are continually undertaking research with human participants. Our research studies vary in their mode of delivery (online vs laboratory-based), how long they will take (10 minutes to a few hours over a number of days), and how much participants will be reimbursed for their time.
Please see below for the current opportunities to take part in our research.
Parent-child interaction about physical activity
Project aim: We have created a short online survey to investigate how parents and their 11-14-year-old children interact in relation to physical activity and sport.
What do I need to do? We are looking for parents of 11-14-year-old children to complete this short online survey (~15 minutes to complete).
How to find out more and/or take part: https://lboro.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/physical-activity-parenting-with-adolescents
Young people’s feelings about exercise
Project aim: We have created a questionnaire to find out about the different factors that may impact young people’s feelings about exercise.
What do I need to do? We would love for your 12–16-yr-old child to test it and let us know what they think.
How to find out more and/or take part: https://lboro.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/parentinformation