Can Picky Eating Predict Mental Health Issues?
Picky eaters have something new to worry about. A study from Duke University reveals that extreme picky eaters may be more likely to have mental health issues. They found a higher risk of depression, anxiety and other problems. However, researchers warn parents that not all picky eaters are at risk.
The researchers are referring to extreme cases of picky eaters in their study published in Pediatrics. This means that they are not referring to children who occasionally refuse to eat broccoli or will not try a casserole at dinner. The study included children with extreme sensitivities to food. They had a very limited menu of foods they were willing to eat and would not try new products.
Researchers include 917 children in the study and focused on preschoolers with moderate and severe selective eating (SE) or picky eating. Children who fit the category of moderate and severe selective eating were two times more likely to have mental health issues. The results showed they were at a higher risk of having depression, anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In addition, they noticed that children with the most severe cases of picky eating were more likely to have more severe mental health problems.
Researchers also pointed out that selective eating was linked to slower growth and weight problems. They believe that these extreme cases of picky eating are linked to sensory processing difficulties. The texture, smell and taste of the food are all part of the process. They recommend that parents pay attention to the extremes cases and seek help if mental health issues are apparent. In addition, it is important to check for food allergies. However, the researchers also mention that some picky eaters eventually grow out of this phase and are able to eat a wide variety of foods later in life.