Many parents know the frustration and worry when your child is a picky eater. A new study shows the problem is common, but it could signal more serious issues for some kids.
Leo is a happy, healthy three-year-old, but his mom says like many children his age, he's a picky eater.
“If it I was up to Leo, what would he be eating all day every day?”
“Pasta, bread, anything that has carbs in it.”
It can be frustrating and worrisome for many parents. Now a new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests it could be a signal of emotional issues in a small portion of children.
“I personally think that these are kids who are anxious in other settings it's not just about food,” says Dr. Dyan Hes, Medical Director of Gramercy Pediatrics
The study shows 20% of children ages two to six are "selective" eaters. Three percent are considered severely selective and more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.
“So a normal picky eater is a kid who doesn't want his carrots to touch his fish sticks. Might be a kid who you serve mashed potatoes and broccoli and when they see the green of the broccoli they pick it all out but they'll continue to eat the mashed potato.”
Pediatricians like Dyan Hes say treatment for extreme cases could include therapy or even medication. For the kids who are more likely to outgrow the problem, she recommends parents work with children, don't give them other options and grind up fruits and vegetables into meals.
“I have to be very sneaky - I'm making this dish at least once a week because it's very easy for me.”
This mom says that's just started working for her son.
The study found even kids who were considered moderate selective eaters were more likely to develop anxiety.