Nutrition and Behaviour

health food on plate representing Nutrition and Behaviour research at the School of Psychology

The Nutrition and Behaviour (NAB) Research Group is part of our Human Appetite Research Unit (HARU). The work of the NAB group is focussed on the effects of foods and food components including breakfast, polyphenols, phospholipids, dietary fibre, minerals and bioactives on:

  • Objectively measured cognitive performance
  • Stress responsivity and resilience
  • Appetite control and body weight management
  • Glycaemic response
  • Subjective symptoms, including psychological and physical wellbeing
  • Gut microbiota and digestive function

Key research interests include the effects of breakfast on cognitive, academic/learning and behavioural outcomes (in class, at home), the impact of metabolic disorders including phenylketonuria (PKU), diabetes (gestational and T2DM), cystic fibrosis on cognitive function and health, dietary interventions for healthy ageing, obesity, T2DM and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The Nutrition and Behaviour group are actively involved in the N8 Agrifood programme, in which Professor Louise Dye is N8 Chair of Nutrition and Behaviour and academic lead of the N8 Agrifood programme at Leeds, which sits within the interdisciplinary Food themeDr Neil Boyle is the N8 Agrifood Knowledge Exchange Fellow. The NAB group contribute to understanding how to encourage and sustain dietary behaviour change at individual, organisational and societal levels, linking to global issues of food production/supply, inequality and health and particularly the role of food in preventing cognitive decline and social isolation in the elderly (N8 People to Food project).

The NAB group have published well-cited and influential systematic reviews and meta analyses examining a number of areas including:

  • The effects of breakfast on academic, cognitive and behavioural outcomes in children and adolescents
  • Iron deficiency/supplementation and cognition in children and young women
  • The effects of different food components (e.g. polyphenols to maintain mental performance and prevent cognitive decline)

Ongoing Projects

Current research projects in the Nutrition and Behaviour (NAB) group are as follows: 

Well on Wheat (WOW) Study

The WOW study is a collaborative study with Professor Fred Brouns and Dr Daisy Jonkers at the University of Maastricht (NL). The study is part of the wider WOW Project which has 7 research partners and 18 funding partners (e.g. Mondelez, Fazer, DSM). The study compares the effects of different breads on gastrointestinal symptoms and well-being in people with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

Acute effect of minerals and botanicals (confidential) in combination or isolation on cognitive performance, neural activity, and response to stress

Confidential Industry Sponsor.

Clinical trial of a food for special medical purposes (FSMP, confidential) in phenylketonuria

Confidential Industry Sponsor.

RCT to compare the bioavailability, acceptability and tolerability and effects on gut microbiota and cognitive function of omega-3 fatty acids in a drink with an equivalent dose of omega-3 fatty acids in capsule form

Funded by Smartfish, Norway.

Acute and chronic effects of 100% Florida Orange Juice consumption on cognitive performance and gut microbiota in 7 - 9 year old UK schoolchildren

Funded by Florida Department of Citrus, USA.

Intervention study of the effects of phospholipid enriched milk compared with non-enriched milk on cognitive performance and subjective state in 6 - 8 year old UK school children

Funded by Arla Foods Ingredients, DK.

The effect of ingesting or rinsing sucrose and sucralose solutions on self-control and cognitive performance

Funded by Sugar Nutrition, UK.

Facilities and Resources

The School of Psychology has a wide range of specialised facilities and resources available for research projects. 


Dr Katie Adolphus
Dr Neil Boyle
Fiona Croden
Professor Louise Dye