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Int J Eat Disord. 2015 Sep;48(6):570-9. doi: 10.1002/eat.22384. Epub 2015 Jan 30.

Trajectories of picky eating during childhood: A general population study.

Author information

1
The Generation R Study Group, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
2
Parnassia Psychiatric Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology, Erasmus University Medical Center-Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Psychiatry, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
5
Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
6
Department of Pediatrics, Erasmus University Medical Center - Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
7
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York.
8
Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This cohort study describes the prevalence of picky eating and examines prognostic factors for picky eating trajectories during childhood.

METHODS:

4,018 participants of a population-based cohort with measurements from pregnancy onwards were included. Picky eating was assessed by maternal report when children were 1.5, 3, and 6 years old. The associations of child and family characteristics with trajectories of picky eating were examined using logistic regression. Never picky eaters were used as the reference group.

RESULTS:

Prevalence of picky eating was 26.5% at 1.5 years of age, 27.6% at the age of 3 and declined to 13.2% at 6 years. Four main picky eating trajectories were defined: (1) never picky eating at all three assessments (55% of children), (2) remitting (0-4 years, 32%), (3) late-onset (6 years only, 4%), and (4) persistent (all ages, 4%). This implies that almost two thirds of the early picky eaters remitted within 3 years. Male sex, lower birth weight, non-Western maternal ethnicity, and low parental income predicted persistent picky eating. More often late-onset picky eaters were children of parents with low income and non-Western ethnicity.

DISCUSSION:

We found that nearly half (46%) of children were picky eaters at some point during early childhood. Remittance was very high. This suggests that picky eating is usually a transient behavior and part of normal development in preschool children. However, a substantial group of persistent picky eaters, often from a socially disadvantaged background, continues to have problems beyond the preschool age.

KEYWORDS:

child eating problems; children; epidemiology; longitudinal study; picky eating

PMID:
25644130
DOI:
10.1002/eat.22384
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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