Professor Graham Finlayson

Professor Graham Finlayson


Professor Graham Finlayson is a psychologist and leads the Appetite Control & Energy Balance Research group at the University of Leeds, UK, an internationally renowned team undertaking research in human appetite, food choice, and the relationship between eating and physical activity behaviour. He has over 15 years’ experience in the psychobiology of appetite and energy balance (necessarily incorporating eating behaviour, physical activity, nutrition and health). This has included positions at the New York Obesity and Nutrition Research Centre at Columbia University, the Nestlé Research Centre in Lausanne, and a Visiting Research Fellowship at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. He has spent most of his career working in a research-intensive environment at the University of Leeds, UK, designing and conducting integrated human trials and interventions, concerned with appetite, energy balance, and obesity. He has extensive experience in industrial and academic collaborations, and in developing innovative approaches to the psychobiology of appetite and energy balance.

Prof Finlayson has a sustained international reputation for innovative research evidenced by:

  • Development of a well-recognised behavioural task – the Leeds Food Preference Questionnaire (LFPQ) – that has been enthusiastically taken up by the international scientific community. It has been adapted and translated into 14 languages and has been used in major national and international funded research.
  • Collaborations with over 20 different laboratories in 15 countries.
  • Invitations to give over 40 lectures on his research, 18 of which were international congresses.
  • Awarded the 2015 Malaspina International Scholar Award by the International Life Sciences Institute for research on food choice and preference and their application in understanding obesity risk.
  • Scientific consultant for several international businesses.
  • Obtaining major research resources as an investigator on 17 successful grants worth over £3.77 million

Prof Finlayson has a distinguished record of academically excellent research outputs as evidenced within an international context:

  • He has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles since 2006.
  • He has published in highly regarded journals including Nature Reviews Endocrinology (IF=18.318), BMJ Gut (IF=16.658), Diabetes (IF=8.684), American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (IF=6.926), Sports Medicine (IF=6.832) and International Journal of Obesity (IF=5.487).
  • According to Scopus he has 2,439 citations and an H-index of 27 (Google Scholar: 3,975 and 34).
  • He is a multidisciplinary researcher publishing in a variety of subject areas (including Psychology, Medicine, Neuroscience, Agricultural and Biological Sciences, Social Sciences and Health Professions) with more than 150 different co-authors in over 40 different journals.



  • Co-director of Appetite & Energy Balance Research Group
  • Chair of School of Psychology Ethics Committee

Research interests

Professor Finlayson has established an internationally renowned, interdisciplinary programme of research involving structured nutritional, behavioural and physiological manipulations as a stimulus to examine food reward and appetite in a variety of populations and cultures. The methodologies and know-how developed during his career are sought after by international PIs and the food, pharmaceutical and commercial weight management industries. His research is aligned with EU priorities in Food & Healthy Diet; and with the objectives of the UK Research & Innovation vision for Food, Nutrition and Health research.

He is supported by an interdisciplinary team consisting of psychologists, physiologists, dieticians and exercise scientists that spans food choice and hedonics, satiation and satiety, physical activity and sedentary behaviour and examines these in relation to peripheral physiology and metabolism in the context of weight management and energy balance. 

Key research areas and funding strategies Professor Finlayson is pursuing include:

  • The scientific basis for substantiation of health claims submitted to European Food Safety Authority: working with different industrial partners – satiety work from a dose-ranging studies, acute and repeated dosing studies and negotiated funding for PhD students. He is helping companies build a portfolio of research that they will present to EFSA in their applications for satiety-based health claims.
  • The mechanistic basis of new drug development that target food reward mechanisms for anti-obesity treatment: His work provides the pharmaceutical industry with a tangible, scientifically validated clinical endpoint for drugs targeting the central nervous system. He was involved in the first demonstration in humans that GLP-1 inverse agonists work through food reward mechanisms.
  • The impact of sweeteners and sweetness enhancers on obesity and health: This represents recent funding from the EU H2020 program for the 'SWEET' project. This 5-year, 16 member consortium will investigate the impact of sweetness and sweetness enhancers on health, obesity, safety and sustainability. Prof Finlayson is co-directing a multi-centre behavioural trial central to which is the role of food hedonics and food choice in obesity and weight management.


Professional memberships

  • Association for the Study of Obesity UK
  • Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
  • British Psychological Society
  • European Association for the Study of Obesity
  • World Obesity Federation

Student education

I have a sustained record of high-quality contribution to taught student provision and the student experience, providing effective personal tutoring or other support and guidance to students. Teaching is a core activity and it is my view that all academic staff should contribute to teaching and have contact with students at all levels. I have been a personal and academic tutor for 10 years on the BSc and MSc programmes in the School of Psychology, University of Leeds. I deal with a wide variety of student issues both offering support myself and directing students to more appropriate support within the school or university. Student feedback has consistently praised the very high quality of my teaching, contributing to an excellent student experience.

I introduce my own research at level 1 (PSYC1605 – Biological Psychology), level 2 (PSYC2506 – Neuroscience 1: Human Cognition), MSc (PSYC5642 – Food and Health) and use it extensively throughout my level 3 module (PSYC3502 – Biopsychology of Human Appetite). In this module I hold a lively debate on an area where I have published research and is very popular among students.

Several of my former undergraduate dissertation students have gone on to become my PhD students and several more have taken up PhDs in my area with my support and encouragement. I frequently host visiting students and researchers (international and domesti0, up to early career level) and where appropriate offer them training and research experience in my lab. This has included young scientists who have been inspired by the area and gone on to become PhD students and/or industry scientists in the food/nutrition/pharma sector.

I perceive one of my key strengths as being a good mentor with the ability to inspire and facilitate success in young scientists. I am always seeking opportunities for my team to develop their careers. I encourage my PhD students to publish from early in their training either as lead authors on their literature reviews or co-authors on invited commentaries and reviews. I try to ensure all team members take up training opportunities and present their work at relevant conferences.


Research groups and institutes

  • Appetite control and energy balance

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>