James' doctoral work focused on the effectiveness of family weight management programmes, with a particular interest on the engagement in in such services. This work has helped to formulate a framework that can be used to explain family engagement, and moreover, develop strategies by which to promote continued attendance and reduce dropout. As a pragmatic researcher, his work includes a blend of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
His research fellowship is aligned to the Whole Systems Obesity project at Leeds Beckett University, exploring system-wide approaches to preventing and tackling population-level obesity. This Public Health England funded project works closely with a range of local authorities, the Local Government Association, and the Association for Directors of Public Health. James' work on this project has investigated how local authorities frame obesity in their policies, and what action is undertaken/promoted by local authorities to prevent and treat obesity.
Further work includes the evaluation (weight management programmes, health improvement interventions, and complex interventions), school-based health promotion programmes, and workplace health and wellbeing.