In spite of the apparently innocent habit, researchers suggest there might be more to it. According to a new study, children who are fussy about their food might have developed a few emotional issues that need to be taken care of.
The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics on the 2nd of August, involved about 900 children, whose ages varied from 2 to 5, in a medical center in Durham, North Carolina.
The researchers asked parents about their kids’ eating habits and mental and emotional health. Another survey was conducted two years later, with 200 children.
It was proved that very young children who can’t stand being around certain foods and are very picky in terms of the things they eat (about 3 percent of the children studied) face two times greater risk of developing depression or anxiety.
Those who were moderately selective about their food (18 percent of the participants) were also likely to develop anxiety over the following two years.
Children from both categories tended to display short attention span, behavioral problems and separation anxiety.
However, parents should not start worrying because their children hate spinach or steamed broccoli. This is considered normal pickiness that the child will probably overcome in the years to come, according to lead author of the study Nancy Zucker, who is an associate professor of psychiatry at the Medical School of Duke University.
There are a few things that parents can do as well. For example they can start introducing food in their children’s meals randomly, Zucker explained.
The theory was confirmed by Dr. Arthur Lavin, who is a pediatrician from Cleveland and a representative of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He said that fussy eating is one of parents’ main concern and that this study points out where the problem might really be. “There’s more going on here than just not wanting to eat broccoli,” he added.
The author of the study strongly advises parents to be on the lookout for any signs of anxiety or depression, especially if their children are very selective about the food they eat.
Selective eating is actually an eating disorder that children can develop regardless of their age. The symptoms include extreme sensitivity to the taste, smell or texture of a certain type of food. These are the first signs that something is wrong and they should immediately prompt parents to seek specialized help.
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