Dr Claire Farrow is interested in the factors that influence eating behaviour and weight gain or weight loss, particularly in children. She has expertise in longitudinal research and in using observational and experimental designs. Claire is particularly interested in the impact of parental feeding practices on children’s food preferences and in the role of family mealtimes. She is interested in the development of eating behaviour and weight in Low and Middle Income Countries and is currently collaborating with partners in Kenya and Zambia. Claire has expertise in using digital interventions to support child eating behaviour and has co-developed the 'Child Feeding Guide' website and training resource for parents and professionals and 'Vegetable Maths Masters' app for children and teachers to support healthy eating behaviour.
Claire is a Chartered Psychologist, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Child Eating Behaviour
Digital Health Interventions
Nominated for the Rosalind Franklin Appathon Competition
Highly Commended for the Best App for the Child Feeding Guide, Loughborough University
Winner of Social Enterprise Award for the Child Feeding Guide, Loughborough University
Highly Commended for the Intellectual Property Award for the Child Feeding Guide, Loughborough University
Astonishing Academic Award
2014, 2015 & 2016 Nominated/ won Astonishing Academic Awards (most supportive academic, best personal tutor, and most motivational academic, Life and Health Sciences, Aston University).
University of Birmingham: PhD, Psychology 2005
University of Birmingham: BSc, Psychology 2001
- UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships (UKRI FLF) Programme : Member
- Senior Fellowship of Higher Education Academy : RITE Mentor
- Higher Education Academy : Senior Fellow
- British Psychological Society : Associate Fellow
- Midlands Universities Children and Infants eating Group : Committee Member
- National Steering Group for Children’s Feeding : Committee Member
- British Feeding and Drinking Group : Member
Media Appearances (5)
Fussy Eaters: Calming the Meal-time Battleground
"It's good for you". "Eat your greens". "Oh come on - you liked it yesterday". For those of us who are parents this might sound all too familiar. Five-a-day – it can be difficult to get one-a-day into the mouth of a fussy eater, or even one a week for that matter. And as healthcare professionals it can be a challenge too.
Fussy eaters, Parliament that works for women, Passing for white, Terri White - editor-in-chief Empire magazine
BBC Sounds online
What do you do when your toddler is a fussy eater? A guide for parents about fussy eating which has been available for over ten years, has just been re-evaluated by 25 mothers. Jenni hears from Amanda, a mother of two daughters, plus one of the academics behind the guide, Claire Farrow, Professor in Children's Eating Behaviour at Aston University, Birmingham.
Fussy eating—and parents' stress—remedied by online guide
Medical Xpress online
Professor Claire Farrow, from Aston University, said: "Many parents report that they worry about their child's health suffering from fussy eating, or that their children won't eat healthily in the future. What we're doing with the Child Feeding Guide is reassuring parents that this is very common and children do tend to grow out of fussy eating, but also that they can influence their child's eating by using an evidence-based approach."
Social media users 'copy' friends' eating habits
Professor Claire Farrow, Director of Aston University's Applied Health Research Group whose work has contributed to the national Child Feeding Guide resource, added: "With children and young people spending a huge amount of time interacting with peers and influencers via social media, the important new findings from this study could help shape how we deliver interventions that help them adopt healthy eating habits from a young age - and stick with them for life."
The end of fussy children? New smartphone game helps youngsters eat their greens by linking vegetables with rewards
Daily Mail online
Dr Claire Farrow, Aston University said: 'We have developed an app which draws on psychological research to integrate different methods known to increase interest in vegetables and eagerness to try them.
Research Grants (5)
A school closer to home: the role of mealtimes in fostering language development and aligning home and school learning in rural Kenya and Zambia
UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund: Education as a Driver of Development Research Grant
2019 - 2021 £978,491 Shapiro, L., Farrow, C., Wadende, P., Matthews, D., Mooya, H. & Anyango Koteng, G.
Vegetable Maths Masters evaluation
Strategic Partnership Funding, Aston University
2020 Farrow, C.
A Longitudinal Evaluation of the Impact of Digital Games for Increasing Acceptance of Green Vegetables Over Time
Aston University LHS Impact Fund
2019 - 2020 Farrow, C.
Understanding How Complementary Feeding Method Longitudinally Affects Developmental Outcomes in Young Children
Italian Ministry for Education and Research
2019 - 2022 €483,17 Addessi, E as PI in Italy, with Farrow, C & Galloway
Exploring Language Use at Family Mealtimes in Kenya; Lessons for Early Child Development and Education Centers
International Visiting Scholar Fund, Aston University
2019 Farrow, C., & Shapiro, L.
Do perceived norms of social media users’ eating habits and preferences predict our own food consumption and BMI?Appetite
Lily K Hawkins, Claire Farrow, Jason M Thomas
In laboratory studies, exposure to social norm messages conveying the typical eating behaviour of others has influenced participants' own consumption of food. Given the widespread use of social media, it is plausible that we are implicitly exposed to norms in our wider social circles, and that these influence our eating behaviour, and potentially, Body Mass Index (BMI). This study examined whether four perceived norms (perceived descriptive, injunctive, liking and frequency norms) about Facebook users' eating habits and preferences predicted participants' own food consumption and BMI. In a cross-sectional survey, men and women university students (n = 369; mean age = 22.1 years; mean BMI = 23.7) were asked to report their perceptions of Facebook users' consumption of, and preferences for, fruit, vegetables, energy-dense snacks and sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs), their own consumption of and preferences for these foods, and their BMI. Multiple linear regression revealed that perceived descriptive norms and perceived frequency norms about Facebook users' fruit and vegetable consumption were significant positive predictors of participants' own fruit and vegetable consumption (both ps < .01). Conversely, perceived injunctive norms about Facebook users' energy-dense snack and SSB consumption were significant positive predictors of participants’ own snack and SSB consumption (both ps < .05). However, perceived norms did not significantly predict BMI (all ps > .05). These findings suggest that perceived norms concerning actual consumption (descriptive and frequency) and norms related to approval (injunctive) may guide consumption of low and high energy-dense foods and beverages differently. Further work is required to establish whether these perceived norms also affect dietary behaviour over time.
Making connections: Social identification with new treatment groups for lifestyle management of severe obesityClinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
Sammyh S. Khan, Mark Tarrant, Katarina Kos, Mark Daly, Chloe Gimbuta, Claire V. Farrow
Groups are regularly used to deliver healthcare services, including the management of obesity, and there is growing evidence that patients' experiences of such groups fundamentally shape treatment effects. This study investigated factors related to patients' shared social identity formed within the context of a treatment group for the management of severe obesity. A cross‐sectional survey was administered to patients registered with a UK medical obesity service and enrolled on a group‐based education and support programme. Patients (N = 78; M BMI = 48 on entry to the service) completed measures of group demographics (e.g., group membership continuity) and psychosocial variables (e.g., past experiences of weight discrimination) and reported their social identification with the treatment group. The results showed that patients identified with the treatment group to the extent that there was continuity in membership across the programme and they perceived themselves more centrally in terms of their weight status. Weight centrality was negatively associated with external social support and positively associated with experiences of weight discrimination. Group continuity was positively correlated with session attendance frequency. Patients presenting to clinical treatment services with severe obesity often do so after sustained weight loss failure and exposure to negative societal experiences. This study highlights that providing a treatment environment wherein these experiences can be shared with other patients may provide common ground for development of a new, positive social identity that can structure programme engagement and progression.
Unpacking the relationships between positive feeding practices and children's eating behaviours: The moderating role of child temperamentAppetite
Clare E Holley, Emma Haycraft, Claire Farrow
Evidence suggests that children's eating behaviours are influenced by the feeding practices which parents employ. Furthermore, parents may alter the feeding practices they use according to their child's temperament. However, there is a paucity of literature on how children's temperament moderates the relationship between parents' use of feeding practices and children's eating behaviours. One hundred and eleven mothers of 2 to 4-year-old children completed questionnaire measures of their feeding practices along with their child's eating behaviours and temperament. Two-tailed Spearman's correlations revealed that mothers' use of a range of positive (health promoting) feeding practices was associated with greater enjoyment of food and lower food fussiness among children. Moderation analyses found that relationships between mothers involving their children in food choice and preparation and children's eating behaviours were moderated by children's temperament. Involvement in food choice and preparation was no longer associated with higher enjoyment of food and lower fussiness for children who were either highly emotional or low in sociability. These findings suggest that while many previously identified positive feeding practices may be associated with more healthy eating for all children, some may be less helpful or less achievable with children who have particular temperamental traits. Future research should seek to develop interventions to promote healthy eating which are tailored towards children's individual characteristics.
Weight-management in children living with asthma: a qualitative study of the experiences of paediatric healthcare professionalsJournal of Asthma
Rebecca Clarke, Gemma Heath, Helen Pattison, Claire Farrow
Objective: Weight loss has been found to improve the symptoms of asthma in children who are overweight. However, many paediatric weight management programmes do not address the challenges associated with living with asthma. The aim of this study was to explore the views and experiences of paediatric healthcare professionals concerning weight management advice and support offered to families of children living with asthma. Methods: In-depth individual interviews with 10 healthcare professionals who work with a paediatric asthma population (n = 4 Respiratory Consultants, 3 Respiratory Nurses, 3 General Paediatricians). Data were analysed using a Framework approach. Results: Healthcare professionals highlighted that families’ perceptions of weight, their approach to physical activity and nutrition, the family’s social context and perceptions of asthma and asthma treatment all influence weight management in children living with asthma. Initiating weight management conversations and referring to weight management support were perceived as challenging. It was thought that tailoring weight management to the needs of children living with asthma and locating support within the community were important to the success of a family-centred intervention. Conclusions: The results highlight the added complexity of responding to excessive weight in a paediatric population with asthma. Training and referral guidance for healthcare professionals may help overcome weight management support challenges. Addressing family beliefs about the factors influencing paediatric asthma and exploring families’ motivations for behaviour change may enhance engagement with weight management.
Using repeated visual exposure, rewards and modelling in a mobile application to increase vegetable acceptance in childrenAppetite
Claire Farrow, Esme Belcher, Helen Coulthard, Jason M Thomas, Joanna Lumsden, Lilit Hakobyan, Emma Haycraft
Children are not consuming the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables. Repeated visual exposure, modelling, and rewards have been shown to be effective at increasing vegetable acceptance in young children. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of an evidence-based mobile application (Vegetable Maths Masters) which builds on these principles to increase children's liking and acceptance of vegetables. Seventy-four children (37 male, 37 female) aged 3–6 years old were randomised to play with either the vegetable app or a similar control app that did not include any foods. Children played their allocated game for 10 min. Liking and acceptance of the vegetables used in Vegetable Maths Masters (carrot and sweetcorn) and other vegetables which were not used in the game (yellow pepper and tomato) were measured pre- and post-play in both groups. Parents provided data about their child's food fussiness and previous exposure to the foods being used. Children who played with the Vegetable Maths Masters app consumed significantly more vegetables after playing with the app and reported significant increases in their liking of vegetables, relative to the control group. The effect of the Vegetable Maths Masters app on the change in consumption of vegetables was mediated by the change in liking of vegetables. These findings suggest that evidence-based mobile apps can provide an effective tool for increasing children's liking and consumption of vegetables in the short-term. Further work is now required to establish whether these effects are maintained over time.