Professor Emma Haycraft


Pronouns: She/her
  • Professor of Psychology and Public Health

Emma is Professor of Psychology and Public Health. She is currently Director of Studies for the Postgraduate Taught programmes within the School. Emma is also the Public Health Impact Champion/Lead for SSEHS and an invited member of Enterprise Committee and the School’s Human Resources Advisory Group.

Emma 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 teaches modules relating to developmental psychology and to parenting and children’s socialisation. Emma also supervises undergraduate and doctoral (PhD) students’ research projects. Emma previously led the Psychology Learning and Teaching Discipline Group for the School from 2015-2020 and was the Staff-Student Coordinator for the BSc Psychology degree programme from 2008-2018.

Child feeding research at Loughborough University

Emma’s research focuses on healthy development in children and adolescents. Her work is united by its focus on public health interventions, underpinned by psychology, which generate impact and change behaviour in children, caregivers and professionals. Emma has particular expertise in children’s eating behaviours (e.g., conducting research to discover effective ways to help children to eat a wider variety of foods), 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, early child development, 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.

Building on the successful creation of the Child Feeding Guide and Vegetable Maths Masters digital support resources, Emma’s current and recent research projects focus on: 1) creating targeted support for parents/caregivers of children with an avid appetite; 2) the development of a digital tool to support caregivers to increase young children’s vegetable intake; 3) understanding how the Baby Friendly Community Initiative can support children’s early development in Kenya and beyond; 4) developing strategies to target the double burden of malnutrition in infants and young children in Peru; 5) co-designing community-based interventions to enhance maternal and child health in South Africa; and 6) exploring the acceptability of offering children vegetables for breakfast as a way to increase intake.

Selected recent research projects and sources of funding 

  • Co-developing an app-based intervention to increase children's consumption of vegetables.  Funded by the MRC’s PHIND scheme (2022-2023).  PI: Dr Clare Holley.
  • Parenting pre-schoolers with avid appetites: Understanding differential susceptibility to obesogenic environments for future intervention efficacy.  Funded by the ESRC (2021-2024).  PI: Prof Jackie Blissett.
  • Co-designing community-based ICT interventions to enhance maternal and child health in South Africa.  Funded by the EPSRC (Digital Innovation for Development in Africa (DIDA) call) (2020-2021).  PI: Dr Nervo Verdezoto Dias.
  • Kenya-UK development award to support the design of a whole system approach to facilitate the functioning of the Baby Friendly Community Initiative within the Kenyan health system.  Funded by a NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research Development Award (2020-2021). PI: Prof Paula Griffiths.
  • CAring Practices and Support for Early Childhood Development and learning among nomadic pastoralists – informing the development of a support system to foster optimal early childhood development in Kenya (CAPS-ECD study).  Funded by the British Academy (2019-2021). PI: Prof Paula Griffiths.
  • New strategies to reduce anaemia and risk of overweight and obesity through complementary feeding of infants and young children in Peru. Funded by the MRC’s UK - Peru: Relationship between food, Nutrition & Health 2018 call (Newton Fund) (2019-2023). PI: Prof Emily Rousham.
  • BMC Public Health editorial board member for ‘nutritional health and epidemiology’.
  • Guest editor for a special issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, focusing on “Food Environments and Eating Behaviours in Infants and Children”. Co-editors, Drs Nikki Ann Boswell, Rebecca Byrne and Ruth Newby (Australia), Prof. Paulina Nowicka (Sweden).
  • Webinar in collaboration with Dr Chris McLeod, Paul Ellis from Cambridge Assessment International Education, and the Prince’s Teaching Institute: Teaching psychology through the lens of Covid-19. Accessible here:
  • Co-chair (with Dr Alexis Wood) of a statement for the American Heart Association, entitled ‘Caregiver influences on eating behaviors in young children’.
  • 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).
  • 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; Maternal and Child Nutrition; 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/MSc) for over 30 students at various institutions, including: La Trobe University, Australia; University of Cambridge, UK; University of Leeds, UK; University of Reading, 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 Conversation, and guest blogs for various parenting and nutrition websites and publications (e.g., Early Years Childcare Magazine, Community Practitioner, Pediatrics for Parents).

Featured publications

Emma has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Recent examples include:

  • Reynolds, K.A., Haycraft, E. & Plateau, C. (in press, 2022). Sociocultural influences on exercise behaviors and attitudes in adolescence. Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
  • White, H.J., Meyer, C., Palfreyman, Z. & Haycraft, E. (2022). Family mealtime emotions and food parenting practices among mothers of young children: Development of the Mealtime Emotions Measure for Parents (MEM-P).  Maternal and Child Nutrition, e13346.  
  • Stone, R.A., Blissett, J., Haycraft, E. & Farrow, C. (2022). Predicting preschool children’s emotional eating: The role of parents’ emotional eating, feeding practices, and child temperament.  Maternal and Child Nutrition, e13341.  DOI: 10.1111/mcn.13341
  • Stone, R.A., Haycraft, E., Blissett, J. & Farrow, C. (in press, 2022). Preschool children’s food approach tendencies interact with food parenting practices and maternal emotional eating to predict children’s emotional eating in a cross-sectional analysis. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  
  • Sandgren, S.S., Haycraft, E., Arcelus, J. & Plateau, C.R. (2022). Evaluating a Motivational and Psycho-Educational Self-Help Intervention for Athletes with Mild Eating Disorder Symptoms: A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study.  European Eating Disorders Review, 30(3), 250-266.  
  • Sandgren, S.S., Haycraft, E., & Plateau, C. (in press, 2022). Development and Initial Evaluation of the Athlete Eating Psychopathology Observation Questionnaire for Sport Professionals.  Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology.  DOI:  
  • Sandgren, S.S., Haycraft, E., Pearce, R. & Plateau, C. (in press, 2022). Support for athletes with eating psychopathology symptoms: Exploring the views of athletes, coaches and sport practitioners.  Journal of Applied Sport Psychology.  
  • Reynolds, K.A., Plateau, C.R. & Haycraft, E. (in press, 2022). Sociocultural Influences on Compulsive Exercise in Young People: A Systematic Review. Adolescent Research Review.  
  • Holley, C.E. & Haycraft, E. (2022). Mothers’ perceptions of self-efficacy and satisfaction with parenting are related to their use of controlling and positive food parenting practices. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 18(1), e13272.
  • Valero-Garcia, A.V., Olmos-Soria, M., Madrid-Garrido, J., Martínez-Hernández, I. & Haycraft, E. (2021). Obesogenic behaviours in young children: the role of regulation and emotional eating behaviour in the early development of obesity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18, 11884. 
  • Bayes, N., Holley, C., Haycraft, E. & Mason, C. (2021).  Adaptations to Holiday Club Food Provision to Alleviate Food Insecurity During the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Frontiers in Public Health, 9, 661345. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.661345.
  • Mutisya, M., Markey, O., Rousham, E.K., Chintsanya, J.M.N., Pradeilles, R., Kimani-Murage, E.W., Madise, N.J., Munthali, A.C., Kalimbira, A., Holdsworth, M., Griffiths, P.L. & Haycraft, E. (2021). Improving nutritional status among urban poor children in sub-Saharan Africa: An evidence-informed Delphi-based consultation.  Maternal and Child Nutrition, 17(2), e13099. DOI: 10.1111/mcn.13099
  • 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.
  • Walton, K., Breen, A., Gruson-Wood, J., Jewell, K., Haycraft, E. & Haines, J. (2021). Dishing on Dinner: A life course approach to understanding the family meal context among families with preschoolers.  Public Health Nutrition. 24(6), 1338-1348.  doi:10.1017/S1368980020001779