School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Dr Emma Haycraft BSc, PhD, SFHEA

Photo of Dr Emma Haycraft

Emma is a Reader 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 2007. Emma lectures on the Loughborough Psychology undergraduate degree programmes where she leads modules relating to developmental psychology and to parenting and children’s socialisation. Emma also supervises undergraduate and postgraduate (PhD) students’ research projects. Emma was the Staff-Student Coordinator for the BSc Psychology degree programme from 2008-2018. She currently leads the Psychology Learning and Teaching Discipline Group for the School. Emma is also an invited member of the Enterprise Advisory Group and the LU-LSU Peer Support Management Group, as well as being the Psychology Peer Support Champion.

Emma’s research focuses on healthy development in children and adolescents. She has particular expertise in children’s eating behaviours (e.g., conducting research to discover 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 feeding infants and children). Much of Emma’s work has considered the interactions between caregivers and children/adolescents, particularly in relation to feeding, eating and mealtimes, but also in relation to sedentary screen-viewing behaviour and physical activity/exercise. Broadly, Emma conducts research which aims to contribute to health promotion efforts in the UK and abroad. More specifically, her research explores fussy eating, emotional eating, childhood obesity, infant feeding, the development of disordered eating, unhealthy (compulsive) exercise behaviours, and, excessive screen use in children/adolescents, as well as feeding practices, parenting, and mental health in adults. Emma is currently a co-investigator on two research projects which are looking at child nutrition and child development in sub-Saharan Africa and she is also involved in research projects taking place in Canada and Australia.

Emma’s research interests include:

  • Eating behaviours in infants, children and adolescents
  • Caregivers’ feeding practices
  • Health-promoting interventions (e.g., regarding eating, physical activity, body dissatisfaction)
  • Healthy development in infants, children and adolescents
  • Fathers’ roles in child feeding
  • Friend and peer influences on eating and exercise behaviours
  • Physical activity, exercise and sedentary behaviour in children and adolescents
  • Young mothers’ infant feeding decisions
  • Parenting styles and practices
  • Mental health and parenting

Emma is proactive in sharing her research findings with those who will benefit from it. She is a co-creator of the Child Feeding Guide; an evidence-based website and web app which supports caregivers whose child is a fussy eater 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. The Child Feeding Guide is also available as a CPD-UK accredited online training course for health professionals and for childcare professionals. Emma is also a co-creator of the Feeding A Baby educational intervention for teenagers and young mums.

Selected recent research projects and sources of funding

  • UK-Africa network to improve the nutrition of infants and young children living in poverty (NINO LIP) in urbanising sub-Saharan African countries. Funded by the Medical Research Council (Confidence in Global Nutrition and Health Research Initiative). Prof Paula Griffiths (PI), Dr Emily Rousham, Dr Emma Haycraft, Prof Kate Gough, Dr Marco Bohr, Dr Sam Kayaka, Dr Oonagh Markey and colleagues (2018-19).
  • Testing the Feasibility of Incorporating Support for Early Childhood Development into the Baby Friendly Community Initiative in Kenya. Funded by the British Academy. Prof Paula Griffiths (PI), Dr Elizabeth Kimani, Dr Emma Haycraft, Dr Teresa Mwoma and Prof Judith Kimiywe (2017-19).
  • Enhanced optimisation of the Child Feeding Guide website and app. Funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (via Loughborough University). Dr Emma Haycraft (PI), Dr Gemma Witcomb and Dr Claire Farrow (2017-2018).
  • Fruit and Vegetable Maths Masters: disseminating psychological evidence in a fun mobile application to improve children’s eating through the home, preschool or school. Funded by the British Psychological Society; public engagement grant. Dr Claire Farrow (PI), Dr Jo Lumsden, Dr Emma Haycraft, Dr Helen Coulthard and Dr Jason Thomas (2016-2018).
  • 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 Haycraft and Dr Jess Haines (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 Fund (via De Montfort University). Dr Helen Coulthard, Dr Claire Farrow and Dr Emma Haycraft (2016-18).
  • Guest editor (with Dr Claire Farrow) of a special issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health focusing on ‘Eating and Exercise in Children and Adolescents’ (2018).
  • External examiner for the MSc/PGDip/PGCert Child Public Health programme, Swansea University (2018 – present).
  • Invited expert contributor to Danone Institute International’s “Nurturing Healthy Eating” initiative which has brought together a multi-disciplinary team of experts to review existing evidence and discuss innovative strategies to empower families and parents to make positive decisions for nurturing healthy eating in their children (2016 – present).
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (November 2016 – present).
  • Special Graduate Faculty Member, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph, Canada (2015 – present).
  • Regular reviewer for a wide range 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; Pediatrics; The Journal of Health Psychology.
  • External examiner (PhD/ClinPsyD) for over 20 students at various institutions, including: La Trobe University, Australia; University of Leeds, UK; University of East Anglia, UK; Adelaide University, Australia; Deakin University, Australia; Massey University, Albany, New Zealand; University of Barcelona, Spain; University of Queensland, Australia.
  • Regular contributor to television, radio and online media, including: BBC News, ITV Central News, BBC Radio Leicester, Gem 106 radio, The Mail Online, The Conversation, and guest blogs for various parenting and nutrition websites and publications (e.g., Early Years Childcare Magazine, Community Practitioner, Pediatrics for Parents).


Emma has authored over 65 peer-reviewed publications. Recent examples include:

  • Farrow, C., Haycraft, E. & Blissett, J. (2018). Observing maternal restriction of food with 3–5-year-old children: Relationships with temperament and later body mass index (BMI). Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(6), 1273.
  • Pearson, N., Biddle, S.J.H., Griffiths, P., Johnston, J., & Haycraft, E. (2018). Clustering and correlates of screen-time and eating behaviours among young children. BMC Public Health: 18, 753.
  • Powell, F.C., Farrow, C., Meyer, C. & Haycraft, E. (2018). The stability and continuity of parentally reported and observed child eating behaviours and feeding practices across early childhood. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,15, 1017. doi:10.3390/ijerph150510
  • Jones, B. A., Bouman, W. P., Haycraft, E., & Arcelus, J. (in press, 2018). The Gender Congruence and Life Satisfaction Scale (GCLS): Development and validation of a scale to measure outcomes from transgender health services. International Journal of Transgenderism. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1080/15532739.2018.1453425.
  • Jones, B.A., Haycraft, E., Bouman, W.P., Brewin, N., Claes, L. & Arcelus, J. (2018). Risk factors for eating disorder psychopathology within the treatment seeking transgender population: The role of cross-sex hormone treatment. European Eating Disorders Review, 26(2), 120-128. DOI: 10.1002/erv.2576
  • Holley, C., Farrow, C. & Haycraft, E. (2018). If at first you don't succeed: Assessing influences associated with mothers' reoffering of vegetables to preschool age children. Appetite, 123, 249-255.
  • Jones, B.A., Haycraft, E., Bouman, W.P. & Arcelus, J. (2018). The levels and predictors of physical activity engagement within the treatment seeking transgender population: A matched control study. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 15(2), 99-107.
  • Holley, C., Haycraft, E., & Farrow, C. (2018). Predicting children’s fussiness with vegetables: The role of feeding practices. Maternal and Child Nutrition,14, e12442. DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12442
  • Schalla, S.C., Witcomb, G.L., & Haycraft, E. (2017). Body shape and weight loss as motivators for breastfeeding initiation and continuation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(7), 754. doi:10.3390/ijerph14070754.
  • Frontini, R., Haycraft, E., Canavarro, M.C. & Moreira, H. (2017). The indirect effect of family cohesion on children's weight status through maternal quality of life and children's internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Child & Youth Care Forum, 46(6), 877–894. DOI 10.1007/s10566-017-9408-z
  • Pearson, N., Griffiths, P., Biddle, S.J.H., Johnston, J., McGeorge, S. & Haycraft, E. (2017). Clustering and correlates of screen-time and eating behaviours among young adolescents. BMC Public Health, 17:533. DOI 10.1186/s12889-017-4441-2.
  • Walton, K., Kuczynski, L., Haycraft, E., Breen, A., & Haines, J. (2017). Time to re-think picky eating?: A relational approach to understanding picky eating. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14:62. DOI: 10.1186/s12966-017-0520-0
  • Haycraft, E., Karasouli, E. & Meyer, C. (2017). Maternal feeding practices and children’s eating behaviours: A comparison of mothers with healthy weight versus overweight/obesity. Appetite, 116, 395-400. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.05.033
  • Holley, C.E., Farrow, C., & Haycraft, E. (2017). A systematic review of methods for increasing vegetable consumption in early childhood. Current Nutrition Reports, 6, 157-170. DOI: 10.1007/s13668-017-0202-1
  • White, H.J., Haycraft, E., Madden, S., Rhodes, P., Miskovic-Wheatley, J., Wallis, A., Kohn, M., & Meyer, C. (2017). Parental strategies used in the family meal session of Family-Based Treatment for adolescent anorexia nervosa: Links with treatment outcomes. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 50(4), 433–436. DOI: 10.1002/eat.22647.
  • Powell, F., Farrow, C., Meyer, C. & Haycraft, E. (2017). The importance of mealtime structure for reducing child food fussiness. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 3(2), e12296. DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12296
  • Jones, B.A., Arcelus, J., Bouman, W.P. & Haycraft, E. (2017). Barriers and facilitators of physical activity and sport participation among young transgender adults who are medically transitioning. International Journal of Transgenderism, 18(2), 227-238. DOI: 10.1080/15532739.2017.1293581
  • Pearson, N., Griffiths, P., Biddle, S.J.H., Johnston, J., & Haycraft, E. (2017). Individual, behavioural and home environmental factors associated with eating behaviours in young adolescents. Appetite, 112, 35-43.
  • Holley, C.E., Farrow, C., & Haycraft, E. (2017). Investigating offering of vegetables by caregivers of preschool age children. Child: Care, Health and Development, 43(2), 240–249 DOI: 10.1111/cch.12400
  • Jones, B.A., Arcelus, J., Bouman, W.P. & Haycraft, E. (2017). Sport and transgender people: A systematic review of the literature relating to sport participation and competitive sport policies. Sports Medicine, 47, 701. DOI: 10.1007/s40279-016-0621-y