Children who are picky eaters may have bigger problems than a lack of a well-balanced diet. A new study finds that kids who make a habit of saying “no” to certain foods are more likely to have symptoms of depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders later in life.
To be considered a picky eater, children kids had to dislike more than just broccoli and common other foods that most kids don’t like. If they limited themselves to eating only preferred foods, then they were considered a moderate case. If their diet that it was hard for them to eat with other kids, they were labeled as “severe.”
In a study by Duke University, the eating habits were analyzed for about 1,100 preschoolers ages 2-5. Researchers visited the homes and interviewed parents and caregivers about their behaviors and food preferences. Also, the researchers checked back with a subgroup of 200 kids each year.
What they found was that picky eaters are more common than we thought. 18% of this group were moderate eaters and 3% were severe cases.
Medical Doctors in the past have said that kids will grow out of this picky eating phase but Duke researchers believe this is not the right way to deal with selective eaters.These numbers followed a previous study that found 14% to 20% of preschoolers were selective about the foods they ate at least some of the time.
“The fact that a behavior is relatively common does not mean that it is harmless,” they wrote in an article published in the journal of Pediatrics.
Kids labeled as moderate did not show an increased risk of being diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. However, if they were measured against less picky eaters, they have shown to have more symptoms of depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Picky eating may a good indicator that a young child has psychiatric issues that need to be evaluated and dealt with.
In the study, children with severe cases of selective eating were about twice as likely as to be diagnosed with depression compared with kids who ate a normal range of foods. They were also 2.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with social anxiety, according to the study.
In a Swedish study, it was shown that obese students were less likely to finish high school. Researchers found after following these kids over time, that picky eaters faced a higher risk of having anxiety problems later in life. This discovery is “perhaps the most clinically significant finding” in the study, the authors wrote.
Anatomically, kids that were picky eaters or had a limited diet did not grow at the rates the other children that eat balanced and nutritional diet. According to the study, without a varied diet, the calories ingested lack the nutrients that are necessary fro growth.
Our body needs nutrition for it to get energy, stamina, and function properly. If your child is a picky eater, instead of giving them junk to make it easier, try cooking the foods differently or look into finding out why your child is so particular. Tackling this early can prevent psychological issues later on in life.