Picky Eating in Kids Should Not be Ignored

Picky Eating in Kids Should Not be IgnoredPicky Eating in Kids Should Not be Ignored

Picky eating in small children may be a sign of serious mental problems that should not be ignored, say experts.

Parents and doctors who view food fussiness as a passing phase could be making a grave mistake, a study suggests.

Even “moderate” pickiness was associated with significantly increased levels of depression and anxiety in a population of more than 3,000 children aged two to six, reports the Press Association.

Those with highly selective eating habits were more than twice as likely as normal eaters to have a diagnosis of depression.

Lead researcher Dr Nancy Zucker, director of the Duke Centre for Eating Disorders in the US, said: “The question for many parents and physicians is: when is picky eating truly a problem?

“The children we’re talking about are not just misbehaving kids who refuse to eat their broccoli.”

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that more than a fifth of the children were selective eaters. Of these, nearly 18% were classified as “moderately picky” and about 3% as “severely selective”.

Children with both moderate and severely selective eating habits displayed symptoms of anxiety and other mental problems.

Dr Zucker added: “There’s no question that not all children go on to have chronic selective eating in adulthood. But because these children are seeing impairment in their health and well-being now, we need to start developing ways to help these parents and doctors know when and how to intervene.”

Some children who refuse to eat might have heightened senses, causing them to be overwhelmed by the smell, texture and taste of certain foods, she pointed out.