Behaviour change

Our research investigates ways to encourage people to make healthier choices.

Based on our multidisciplinary expertise, we design, deliver, and evaluate interventions aimed to enhance healthy behaviour (e.g. physical activity, sedentary behaviour, nutrition, and sleep) which are fundamental to public health and preventive medicine. We translate this work to improve policy and systems so people can live long and happy lives.

Academic staff in this research area collaborate closely with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), the Centre for Lifestyle Medicine and Behaviour (CLiMB), and the Loughborough University Centre for Research in Eating Disorders and behaviours (LUCRED).

Our academic staff are happy to discuss research collaboration, as well as research studentships and self-funded PhDs. To find out more about academics working in this research area, please click on the 'People' tab below.

Research

Current flagship projects include:

  • The development of a physical activity intervention and a toolkit aiming to enhance the physical and mental welfare, and sleep quality of patients living in secure psychiatric facilities.
  • A community-based participatory intervention in Peru designed to improve the diet and nutrition of infants and young children. (UK Research and Innovation)
  • Investigating whether food labels with the equivalent physical activity needed to expend the calories the food contains influences consumer choices.
  • Investigating methods to increase motivation and adherence to rehabilitation programmes in survivors of stroke.
  • The development of a comprehensive sleep management programme for commercial truck drivers. (National Library of Medicine)
  • Investigating parenting practices that support early child development among nomadic pastoralist communities in Kenya with a vision to design a culturally sensitive intervention to support optimal parenting. (The British Academy)

Real-world impact

Based on the scientific endeavours of our academic staff, here are a few examples of how our research helps shape lives:

  • Sit less and move more often to feel more energised and focused – Too much sitting is bad for health and wellbeing and could be costly to employers. SMART Work & Life is a free evidence-based resource kit for organisations/teams/individuals to use to sit less throughout the working day, whether working in the office or at home, and in leisure time.
  • Real strategies and tools to tackle fussy eating and create happy mealtimes – Academic psychologists specialising in children’s eating behaviour and parenting at mealtimes have created an award-winning package of real strategies and tools to tackle fussy eating and create happy mealtimes. The evidence-based information, tips and tools can be used to help parents and professionals to establish healthy eating in children.
  • Using psychological strategies to deliver lasting improvements to sleep quality – Affecting 10% of the adult population, insomnia degrades quality of life, damages relationships, impairs performance at work, delays recovery from illness, and increases the chances of developing major depression. Our academics have developed a free app – https://sleepful.me/ – providing easy to follow information and strategies to improve sleep quality.
  • The effectiveness of Physical Activity Calorie Equivalent (PACE) labelling on food selection and consumption – Labelling food and drinks with the amount and type of physical activity needed to expend the calories they contain might be an effective way of encouraging people to reduce calorie consumption. On average, when PACE labelling was displayed on food and drink items and on menus, significantly fewer calories were selected for consumption.
  • ‘Snacktivity’ to promote physical activity and reduce future risk of disease – Guidance states that during a week adults should achieve at least 150-minutes of at least moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity. Snacktivity™ focuses on promoting small, but frequent, doses or snacks of regular activity throughout the day.
  • Teaching children to be active – Although physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, more than 80% of children are not active enough to benefit their health. Our research has led to changes in health-related physical education (HRPE) policy, curricula and practices worldwide as well as the expansion and enhancement of HRPE professional development.

People

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.

Our research staff and their areas of research interest are listed below:

  • Dr Ian Taylor – Motivational processes that optimise health (e.g. adherence to activity or rehabilitation).
  • Dr Stacy Clemes – Impact of physical activity and sedentary behaviour on markers of health and wellbeing.
  • Professor Amanda Daley – Developing and testing physical activity and weight management intervention in primary care and community settings.
  • Professor Paula Griffiths – Reducing inequalities in health through community-based interventions to improve maternal, infant and child nutrition, growth, development and health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Dr Jennie Hancox – Developing behavioural change interventions for the promotion and maintenance of physical health and psychological wellbeing.
  • Dr Iuliana Hartescu – Iuliana’s research interests are in sleep behaviour and health, with a focus on behavioural treatments for insomnia disorder.
  • Professor Emma Haycraft – Children’s healthy development, with particular focus on children’s eating, and caregivers’ feeding, behaviours.
  • Professor Eef Hogervorst – Early diagnoses and lifestyle changes including activity supported by design for dementia.
  • Dr Clare Holley – Clare's main research interests lie in eating behaviour, with a focus on how we can increase healthy eating behaviour as well as reducing unhealthy behaviours.
  • Dr Florence Kinnafick – Exercise, mental health and mental illness.
  • Dr David Maidment – Evidence-based digital interventions to increase social and physical activity, and reduce noncommunicable disease risk, in adults with sensory and physical disabilities.
  • Professor Fehmidah Munir – Designing interventions using intervention frameworks and behaviour change theories. Interventions include changing the way people work to improve their psychological and physical wellbeing and their productivity; and rehabilitation interventions for those affect by cancer.
  • Hibbah Osei-Kwasi – Dietary practices and behavioural change interventions for Black minority ethnic groups; and global health and nutrition research to reduce inequalities in low/middle income countries.
  • Dr Nicola Paine – The impact of stress and health behaviours on markers of health and disease risk.
  • Dr Natalie Pearson – Factors influencing diet, sedentary behaviour and physical activity, and the impact of these health behaviours on public health.
  • Dr Carolyn Plateau – Mental health, wellbeing and disordered eating in sporting populations.
  • Dr Emily Rousham – Global health including public health nutrition; community based interventions to improve nutrition and reduce infectious disease and antibiotic resistance.
  • Dr James Sanders – The accuracy and reliability of mobile health technologies; and the design and implementation of digital health behaviour change interventions in inactive adults.
  • Professor Lauren Sherar – Understanding and intervening on physical activity and sedentary behaviour to improve physical and mental health.
  • Dr Lizzie Stamp – Behaviour change to enhance health and wellbeing and prevent disease.
  • Dr Clare Stevinson – Physical activity determinants and outcomes for general and clinical populations.
  • Veronica Varela-Mato – Working with stakeholders to promote a cultural change conducive of health and wellbeing and to minimise the impact of poor health within the workplace.
  • Dr Hannah White – Hannah’s research focuses on disordered eating and mental health among adolescents and young adults.
  • Dr Gemma Witcomb – The impact of gender; gendered-experiences; LGBTQ+ status on body image; psychological wellbeing; and eating behaviours.

Current PhD projects

PhD projects include:

  • Hanaa Alanzy – Producing interventions to reduce sedentary behaviours and increase physical activity for homeworkers.
  • Reem Alrashidi – Investigating and building up a health and fitness database for adult female athletes in the state of Kuwait.
  • Ahmet Begde – The effects of a home-based dual-task intervention on walking and eye scanning while performing activities of daily living in patients with dementia.
  • Katherin Burdenski – The influence of non-parental childcare during early childhood for long term health and health behaviours.
  • Damith Chacrawarthige – The impact of parents' characteristics on children's early development in Sri Lanka. 
  • Matthew Craggs – A structured health intervention for truckers - The Shift Study.
  • Amy Creaser – Physical activity interventions in Bradford children and adolescents.
  • Denise Dal Lago – Investigating the link between attentional biases and holistic perception, and their functional roles in changing behaviour.
  • Adam Dickinson – Examining the impact of Inspire A Generation through wheelchair basketball.
  • Poppy Gardiner – Sleep management in low and medium secure mental health units.
  • Aleksandra Gawor – The effects of excessive alcohol consumption and interventions to alleviate behaviour.
  • Maria Goodwin – Improving sports participation in young adults living with hearing loss.
  • Amber Guest – The implementation of a novel Structured Health Intervention for Truckers (SHIFT) within an international logistics and transport company.
  • Nicole Gwynne – Enhancing motivation and adherence to exercise rehabilitation in stroke survivors.
  • James Haley – Improving physical activity for young adults living with disabilities.
  • Manisha Jain – Improving health in older people with cognitive impairment through technology at home.
  • Toby Keel – Co-designing a short training course on personalised physical activity promotion for improved physical health of patients living in a secure psychiatric facility.
  • Ailish King – Irrational beliefs and athlete wellbeing.
  • Bert Klemmer – Satellite clubs programme: How do the community sports clubs aimed at enhancing engagement in physical activity and psychological wellbeing, impact children and young people?
  • Jedidah Mould (nee Tetteh) – Assessing the relationship between female autonomy and maternal and child health.
  • Rui Pereira – Sleep, arousal and performance: the management of cognitive and physiological arousal in sport.
  • Elizabeth Pharoah – Increasing the physical activity levels and quality of life of paediatric cancer patients and their family: A family based approach.
  • Erin Prior – Developing organisational cultures to promote the mental health of elite athletes.
  • Benedict Rollinson – Translating motivational principles to develop a feasible and effective physical activity intervention.
  • Katharina Ruettger – Improving cardiometabolic health and driving performance in UK and Australian truck drivers.
  • Jessica Scott – Motivation and achievement in physical education and mathematics in upper primary school.
  • Kayleigh Sharp – Investigating physical activity during pregnancy.
  • Jonah Thomas – Snacktivity to promote physical activity and reduce future risk of chronic disease in the population.
  • William Tyne – Recreational physical challenge, self-efficacy and performance in the workplace.
  • Paul Young – The effects of a mindfulness and rational-emotive behaviour coaching intervention in promoting resilience and organisational wellbeing.

To find out more about PhD opportunities in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, visit our Postgraduate research webpages.

Research spotlight: Snacktivity

Achieving physical activity recommendations means the public need to make large changes to their lives. Loughborough University and our partners have been awarded £2.2 million from NIHR to develop a new approach to promoting physical activity in the population - called ‘Snacktivity’.

 

Find out more