It hardly comes as news that children turn in food tyrants right about any mealtime of the day. With their fussy way of developing obsessive preferences for one food in the detriment of another, it becomes a tough challenge for parents to expand their palate.
The news comes from a study published in the Pediatrics journal, and authored by Nancy Zucker, the director of Duke University Center for Eating Disorders. Nancy Zucker and her colleagues are drawing attention to possible implications of fussy or picky eating as a child.
According to the team’s observations, adults who are reporting having eating issues, also self-report being picky eaters during their childhood.
Using this observation as a launchpad, the team looked at the eating habits of 917 children. The results of the survey, completed by the children’s parents were correlated with scores at tests assessing the anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. The children in the study were two to six years old.
A group of the 917 children were labeled as moderate selective eaters, while a second one was labeled severe selective eaters. Both these groups presented a high association score between picky eating and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression or anxiety.
The severe selecting eating group was found to have twice the risk of being diagnosed with depression than children who are not picky eaters. At the same time, the risk of becoming anxious is seven times higher than that of children who are not selective eaters.
According to estimates, an approximate 20 percent of children are picky eaters. For some of these children, their fussiness when acquainted to food or new foods could be an indication of other issues in development. Only 3 percent of the children fell in the severe selective eating category.
However, Nancy Zucker explained that the study is certainly not meant to alarm parents. It should be treated with caution and any such issue should be taken with the pediatrician or specialists. The study is merely an orientational tool and does not imply any causal relation: picky eating does not cause mood disorders, nor do mood disorder cause picky eating.
Moreover, the lead researcher stated that your child’s fussy eating habits may in fact be a sign of hypersensitivity. As children are exploring the world in a myriad of new and exciting ways, they might reach a saturation point when pushing out foods is the only way to cope with the wealth of sensory information around:
“The restriction and narrowness in eating is a way of simplifying their rich, overwhelming world”,
said Nancy Zucker.
Thus, there is no need to add to bucket of worries that come with raising a child. A little attention and a lot of affection is what the doctor recommends. According to Nancy Zucker, one way to overcome the picky eating phase is to refrain from turning mealtime to a battleground.
Do not force your child to eat anything they don’t like. Keep this experience as a separate adventure in food land, outside of the main meals of the day. Children do not a varied and nutritious meal plan, but not at all costs.
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