Picky Eating Tied to Anxiety
When should you be concerned about your child’s eating habits? According to new research published in the journal Pediatrics, children who display moderate to severe levels of picky eating were more likely to have other psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
To conduct their study, the researchers at duke Medicine analyzed a group of 917 children between the ages of 24 and 71 months. The children's caregivers were interviewed on the kid's eating habits, functioning, possible psychiatric symptoms and home environment variables. The goal of the team was to find out whether selective eating at either moderate or severe levels could predict the development of psychological issues.
The scientists found that children with moderate selective eating habits did not appear more likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. But severely selective eaters were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Eating problems are so prevalent that many clinicians and researchers consider them a normal part of development for preschool-aged children. According to the study authors, between 14 to 20 percent of parents report that young children aged 2 to 5 years are picky eaters. Selective eating in children has been attributed to bad experiences with certain foods, leading to anxiety when being forced to eat the food, or try new foods. Some children may also have heightened senses that cause the tastes and textures of certain foods to become overwhelming.
The researchers noted that new treatments outside traditional therapy may be necessary to help these children improve their eating habits.