Student & ECR Spotlight – Katie Edwards’ research investigates appetite in preschool children to produce evidence for tailored interventions to support the development of healthy eating behaviour

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

During my Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Aston University, I completed a placement year where I worked as a research assistant in eating behaviour. After an enjoyable year of conducting experimental studies examining young adults’ eating behaviour, I decided that a career in research was for me. I accepted a PhD position at Aston University which I began in 2019, the same month as graduating from my BSc. My PhD research examined the role of facial expressions in the modelling of vegetable consumption. During my PhD, I also had several research assistant roles working on various eating behaviour projects. My current role is as a postdoctoral researcher at Aston University, working on the APPETItE project: Appetite in Pre-schoolers: Producing Evidence for Tailoring Interventions Effectively.

What is your main research interest?

My broad research interest is to better understand the development of eating behaviour. I am particularly interested in parent feeding practices and how they can support the development of children’s healthy eating. I am also interested in how differences between individuals can influence feeding interactions.

How do you explain your current research/job to friends and family?

I usually describe my research as helping to better understand ways to encourage healthy eating behaviour and to prevent the development of obesity. Since many friends and family have experienced children’s vegetable rejection, I often explain that my research examines how we can promote children’s vegetable consumption.

What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

One challenge I have experienced as an ECR is wanting to take on additional projects. Not only are these interesting, but I have also found it beneficial for my career development. However, I think that it can be easy to overcommit to projects as an ECR and deciding which projects to commit to is often difficult. I think that developing the ability to prioritise projects and to manage time effectively is important for career development as an ECR.

What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field?

I think that an important development in the field of nutrition is producing guidance that is tailored to individuals. Current public health advice is generic and does not account for the considerable variability between individuals. Taking a person-centred approach and using novel methodologies, such as ecological momentary assessment, will support the development of tailored interventions to encourage healthy eating behaviour.


If you would like to get in touch with Katie, you can do so via her Twitter and LinkedIn handles.