A new study published in Pediatrics suggests that selective eating in children is often associated with underlying psychological issues, including depression, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
To investigate their hypothesis, researchers analyzed a group of 917 children between the ages of 24 and 71 months. The children’s caregivers were interviewed about the children’s eating habits, functions, possible psychiatric symptoms and home environment variables.
Researchers discovered that children with moderate or severe selective eating habits were almost twice as likely to experience higher symptoms of anxiety compared to children who were not selective with their food. Moderate and severe selective eating habits were associated with higher symptoms of depression, social anxiety and general anxiety.
Those with moderate selective eating habits were not as likely to be diagnosed with psychiatric disorders; however, those with severe selective eating habits were twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Researchers believe that children who have selective eating habits possibly associate negative experiences with certain foods—which could lead to anxiety when having to eat specific food.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Zucker, N., et al., “Psychological and psychosocial impairment in preschoolers with selective eating,” Pediatrics, doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-2386, published online August 3, 2015.
McIntosh, J., “Picky eating linked to anxiety, depression in children,” Medical News Today web site, August 3, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297624.php.