Leila Karhunen

Multidisciplinary approaches to eating behavior

Eating behavior plays a fundamental role in our health and wellbeing. Therefore, comprehensive understanding of the complex interplay of factors driving food intake and related behaviors is crucial in addressing challenges related to wellbeing and risk of various lifestyle-related diseases. Our main goal is to understand deliberative and automatic processes involved in the regulation of food intake and eating behaviors. In addition, we are interested in to broadly understand various behavioral, psychosocial and physiological factors involved in the regulation of food intake, weight management, health and wellbeing. We also aim to find new ways to promote health and wellbeing among children, adolescents and working-aged population.

Our research team is highly multidisciplinary combining expertise in human nutrition, physiology, physics, psychology, medicine, health economics, social science and consumer and sensory science.

Group leader PhD, adjunct prof. Leila Karhunen, email leila.karhunen(at)uef.fi  Tel. +358 40 3552 776, UEF Connect

Research projects we are currently working with:

  • Food-municipality - together towards health and food joy (RUOKAKUNTA - Yhdessä kohti ruokailoa ja terveyttä). 2019-2021, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (PI PhD Sanna Talvia)
  • Tasty school (Maistuva koulu). 2018-2020, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (coordinator Ruokakulttuurikeskus Ruukku ry, PI at UEF PhD Tanja Tilles-Tirkkonen)
  • SomeBody® mentelmäksi kuntien hyvinvointityöhön (SomeBody). 2018-2020, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (coordinator: Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, PI at UEF Leila Karhunen)
  • Kehonkuva hyvinvoinnin perustana (KEHUVA). 2017-2019, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (coordinator and PI Leila Karhunen)
  • Stop Diabetes - Knowledge-based solutions (StopDia). 2016-2019, Academy of Finland, Strategic Research Council (PI prof. Jussi Pihlajamäki)
  • Multimodal Assessment of food Reward: insights into Individual Appetite control (MARIA). 2015-2019, Academy of Finland (PI Leila Karhunen)
  • Foods for weight control: Satiety and long-term regulation of weight and food intake (ELIPA). Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and Finnish food companies (coordinator and PI Leila Karhunen)
  • Elixir. Mind and Body-program, The Strategic Centre of Science, Technology and Innovation in Health and Well-being, Finland, Salwe Ltd and Tekes. (PI prof. Marjukka Kolehmainen)
  • Consumers on the weight management market (KULUMA). Tekes and Finnish food companies (PI DSc (Econ.) Teuvo Kantanen)


  • Marjukka Kolehmainen, PhD, prof. (Elixir, StopDia, MARIA, ELIPA)
  • Anja Lapveteläinen, PhD, adjunct prof. (MARIA, KULUMA)
  • Kristiina Juvonen, PhD (MARIA)
  • Sanna Talvia, PhD (KEHUVA, SomeBody, RUOKAKUNTA), UEF Connect
  • Tanja Tilles-Tirkkonen, PhD (StopDia, Maistuva koulu), UEF Connect
  • Eini Niskanen, PhD (MARIA)
  • Kirsikka Aittola, MSc, PhD student (StopDia)
  • Faranak Halali, MSc, PhD student (KULUMA)
  • Lilian Helkkola, MSc, PhD student (University of Helsinki) (KEHUVA, SomeBody)
  • Elina Järvelä-Reijonen, MSc, PhD student (Elixir, StopDia), UEF Connect
  • Suvi Järvinen, MSc, PhD student (Elixir, StopDia)
  • Kaisa Kähkönen, MSc, PhD student (Maistuva koulu, RUOKAKUNTA), UEF Connect
  • Aapeli Lahtinen, MSc (MARIA)
  • Aija Laitinen, MSc, PhD student (Maistuva koulu)
  • Mari Näätänen, MSc, PhD student (ELIPA, MARIA)
  • Eeva Rantala, MSc (StopDia)
  • Liisa Tammela, MSc, PhD student (AHVO)

Main collaborators

  • Johanna Närväinen, PhD, VTT (MARIA)
  • Mika Tarvainen, PhD, adjunct professor, Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland (MARIA)
  • Pekka Kuoppa, PhD, Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland (MARIA)
  • Heikki Tanila, MD, prof. A. I. Virtanen Institute, University of Eastern Finland (MARIA)
  • Sanna Sinikallio, PhD, adjunct prof., School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland (MARIA)
  • Jussi Pihlajamäki, prof., dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Eastern Finland (StopDia, MARIA)
  • Pilvikki Absetz, PhD, adjunct prof. research director, University of Eastern Finland (StopDia, MARIA)
  • Kaisa Poutanen, prof., VTT (StopDia, Elipa)
  • Saara Pentikäinen, PhD, VTT (StopDia)
  • Jaana Lindström, PhD, adjunct prof., National Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL) (StopDia)
  • Juho Saari, prof., dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University (KEHUVA, SomeBody)
  • Virpi Kuvaja-Köllner, MSc, PhD student, Department of Health and Social Management, University of Eastern Finland (KEHUVA, SomeBody)
  • Anna-Kaisa Vartiainen, MSc, Department of Health and Social Management, University of Eastern Finland (KEHUVA)
  • Susanna Angle, PhD, Tampere University (KEHUVA)
  • Raisa Valve, PhD, University of Helsinki (KEHUVA)
  • Teuvo Kantanen, PhD, University of Eastern Finland (KULUMA)
  • Raimo Lappalainen, prof., vice dean, Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä (Elixir, KULUMA)