Apr 19, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Picky-eating kids are at risk of mental problems

Aug 03, 2015 10:52 PM EDT

Children who are picky eaters are in danger of suffering from mental problems that should be given serious consideration, experts can reveal.

According to experts, parents and doctors are making a serious mistake if they believe picky eating among children is just a passing concern.  Likewise, even "moderate" pickiness could be linked to a certain degree of depression and anxiety.

In fact, children between aged 2 to 6 with highly selective eating habits are at risk of depression twice as much as normal eaters. 

Around 900 children aged 2 through 5 participated in the study. They were signed up from primary care doctors working with Duke's medical center in Durham, North Carolina.

According to New York Times, kids who are moderately picky will choose a limited choice of foods.  

"The question for many parents and physicians is: when is picky eating truly a problem?" Dr Nancy Zucker, of the Duke Centre for Eating Disorders said. "The children we're talking about are not just misbehaving kids who refuse to eat their broccoli," she added.

The study conducted by Zucker and her team found that more than one-fifth of the children were actually picky eaters. Almost 18 percent of them were considered as "moderately picky" eaters while only 3 percent were "severely selective." The researchers found that moderate and severely selective eating habits were linked to anxiety and other mental problems.

According to Dr Zucker, the selective or limited eating choices of these children could already cause serious problems.

"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," Zucker continues.

She also mentioned that while chronic selective is not necessarily carried out from childhood to adulthood, this is looked into as a type of "impairment in health and well-being" that it is necessary to "start developing ways to help these parents and doctors know when and how to intervene."

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