However, while there are many kids who absolutely refuse to eat their rice and vegetables, there are also some who take their pickiness to extreme levels and cannot handle being around certain types of food.
Experts say that the latter might actually experience more serious problems, such as deep emotional issues that can turn into anxiety or depression. These young individuals would often behave erratically as well, would find it hard to concentrate for more than a little while and sometimes become aggressive with their peers.
According to a new study based on this pattern of behavior, children who are extremely picky about their food stand a two times higher chance of suffering from depression or anxiety over the next period of time.
The study involved about 900 children from North Carolina, whose parents were surveyed regarding their eating habits, their reactions and behaviors, as well as their mental and emotional health. About a quarter of these kids were again evaluated after two years.
The researchers from Duke University came to the conclusion that about 20 percent of the children aged 2 to 5 are fussy eaters. However, while most of them were mildly selective about the food they ate, 18 percent of them were moderately fussy and 3 percent were reported to be severely picky.
The last two categories are the most vulnerable ones, according to their findings. They not only double their chances of becoming depressed, but they also suffer from separation anxiety, they are nervous and have behavioral problems.
“These are children, whose eating has become so limited or selective that it’s starting to cause problems. 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, ” said Nancy Zucker, the director of the Duke Center for Eating Disorders and lead author of the study.
Some pediatricians are also worried about the issue, saying that fussy eating is one of parents’ main concern and sometimes the first thing they talk about when they come by their office.
Doctors have started to talk about Avoidant/ Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, that prompts kids to behave like that.
According to mental health professionals, this is a serious matter and parents should not ignore it. Their children could benefit from behavioral therapy to find the cause of their anxiety.
The results of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics, on Monday.
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