Young picky eaters might have more mental health woes

Posted on August 5, 2015

Photo: flickr

While most young picky eaters grow out of their selective eating habits, a new study found that moderate and severe picky eating are associated with psychological issues such as anxiety, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder that may require intervention.

More than 20% of children ages 2 to 6 were found to be selective eaters in a Duke University study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The study authors conducted in-home assessments with 917 children and followed up with 187 children over two years.

"These are not children who just defy authority, who are not eating what you want them to eat just because. These children are going through a lot of (psychological) issues."

Children with moderate or selective eating were nearly twice as likely to have increased anxiety over the study's two-year follow up period.

"This shows that for some kids, it's more than being picky,"

Young picky eaters might have more mental health woes

By Katia Hetter, CNN

Updated 2159 GMT (0459 HKT) August 3, 2015
Is your child a picky eater? Try this

Is your child a picky eater? Try this 03:28
Story highlights

Some picky eating is associated with psychological issues
Picky eating may help parents discover depression, anxiety in a child
Force-feeding picky eaters may make it worse

(CNN)So your young children won't eat Brussels sprouts, broccoli or beans?

Maybe it's just a phase, and they'll grow out of it. Maybe they're tired of you bossing them around and this is one place where they can push back. Maybe, many parents say, you should just let your picky eaters go hungry if they choose not to eat. They'll eat when they're really hungry, right?

Not necessarily.

While most young picky eaters grow out of their selective eating habits, a new study found that moderate and severe picky eating are associated with psychological issues such as anxiety, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder that may require intervention.

More than 20% of children ages 2 to 6 were found to be selective eaters in a Duke University study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The study authors conducted in-home assessments with 917 children and followed up with 187 children over two years.

"These are not children who don't like broccoli and won't touch a tomato," said psychologist Nancy Zucker, the study's lead author and director of the Duke Center for Eating Disorders. "These are not children who just defy authority, who are not eating what you want them to eat just because. These children are going through a lot of (psychological) issues."

About 18% were found to be "moderately picky," which means they only ate from a narrow range of food items. They often ate a separate dinner at home and brought their own food to dinners outside the home. The remaining 3% were severely selective in their eating, which limited their ability to eat outside the home.

Children with moderate or selective eating were nearly twice as likely to have increased anxiety over the study's two-year follow up period.

"This shows that for some kids, it's more than being picky," said Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician and co-author of "Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed With Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup."

"The mental health component might make parents a little more understanding rather than force-feeding your kids," she said.

Parents, who are often trying to make their children eat, also reported feeling judged for their picky eaters, Zucker, the psychologist, said.

Rather than treating picky eating as a single problem, picky eating could be a helpful clue of these other health concerns, Zucker said. Spotting a picky eater is easier than spotting mental health issues, which is why the study's connection between eating and psychological issues is a good issue to raise with your pediatrician.

Click on the link below to read the full article.


Category(s):Anxiety, Child Development, Depression, Eating Disorders, Mental Health in Asia

Source material from http://edition.cnn.com/


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