A recent study found that severe picky eating in early years is linked with high levels of depression or social anxiety later in life. Moreover, researchers found that moderate selective eating is associated to ADHD symptoms and fear of separation in pre-schoolers.
On the other hand, study authors admitted that they didn’t find a cause-and-effect relationship, yet the associations between picky eating and the said psychological symptoms were still strong.
The study involved over 900 participants with ages ranging from 2 to 6 years.
Prof. Leann Birch, a nutrition expert at University of Georgia who was not involved in the study, explained that the new evidence shows that parents and educators should not “trivialize” picky eating and stop seeing it as a whim because it may be linked to some serious “long-term consequences.”
Of the participants, 18 percent fell under the moderate picky eater category, while 3 percent were qualified as severe picky eaters. Moderate picky eaters became often whimsy whenever faced to a healthy food made by their parents or their day center cooks.
Severe picky eaters, on the other hands, couldn’t eat with others because their extreme selective eating. This group had the highest risk of depression or anxiety later in their life. Autism patients who are also notorious picky eaters were not involved in the research.
Usually, children are picky eaters when it comes to their veggies, meat, or fruit and they have a tendency to like anything sweet or salty, researchers noted. But while for most of us selective eating is just a temporary whim, some children cannot outgrow it. Past studies had shown that 12 percent of children remain picky eaters until their adolescence.
Eating disorder experts explained that such children often end up as either social outcasts or in a eating-disorder centers. They indeed have an underlying condition that doesn’t allow them to eat normally. For instance, some of them are extremely sensitive to the smell or texture of their food, or the light in the environment they eat.
Some pediatrics explained that children who have an anxiety related to eating may suffer from all sorts of anxiety later if their underlying condition is left untreated.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders even lists severe picky eating as a separate disorder dubbed “Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder,” or ARFID, which can restrict life options a child has because of his or her extreme selective eating.
The study was published August 3 in the online journal Pediatrics.
Image Source: The Odyssey Online
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