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The implications of picky eating


A new study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry has studied the potential outcomes of children who are picky eaters.

Picky eating (PE) is a frequent problem in early childhood, characterised by food refusal, eating a limited variety of food, unwillingness to try new food, and aberrant eating behaviours, such as slow eating. This study looked at the outcomes of 3,748 Dutch children who were assessed for PE at 1.5, 3, and 6 years. Children were classified as persistent (PE at all ages), remitting (PE before 6 years only), late-onset (PE at 6 years only), and never (no PE). Children’s problem behaviours were assessed at age 7 with a tool called the Teacher Report Form.

Persistent PE predicted pervasive developmental problems at age 7. It was not associated with other behavioural or emotional problems. Other PE categories were not related to child behavioural or emotional problems. In particular, remitting PE was not associated with adverse mental health outcomes, which indicates it may be part of normal development.

Source: Behavioral Outcomes of Picky Eating in Childhood: A Prospective Study in the General Population (2016), Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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