Picky Eating Linked to Anxiety, Depression in Kids

By Ashwin Subramania - 03 Aug '15 10:13AM

A lot of children are known to be picky eaters and parents usually just consider this to be a phase.

A new study however suggests children indulging in moderate to severe selective eating may actually be at an increased risk for depression or anxiety.

According to the study, more than 20 percent of children between the ages 2 to 6 were found to be selective eaters.

"The children we are talking about are not just misbehaving kids who refuse to eat their broccoli," said lead author Nancy Zucker from Duke University School of Medicine in the US.

"These are children whose eating has become so limited or selective that it's starting to cause problems," Zucker said.

"Impairment can take many different forms. It can affect the child's health, growth, social functioning, and the parent-child relationship. The child can feel like no one believes them, and parents can feel blamed for the problem," Zucker explained.

The researchers included 3,433 children for the study and they found that with both moderate and selective eating, the children showed elevated symptoms of social anxiety, depression and general anxiety.

Children with severe selective eating were twice as likely to have a diagnosis of depression.

The researchers also believe that many of these children who are picky eaters develop heightened senses which can make the texture, smell and tastes of certain foods overwhelming. This would eventually trigger a feeling of disgust and aversion in the child.

On the other hand, some children may have had a bad experience while trying out a certain food. They will then experience anxiety while being required to try new foods or to eat the same types of food again.

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