Oh, and your picky eater is doomed, too.

OK, I’m overstating things for dramatic effect… but another Science Daily report reveals even moderately picky eaters face health risks:

According to the study, published August 3 in the journal Pediatrics, more than 20 percent of children ages 2 to 6 are selective eaters. Of them, nearly 18 percent were classified as moderately picky. The remaining children, about 3 percent, were classified as severely selective — so restrictive in their food intake that it limited their ability to eat with others.

“The question for many parents and physicians is: when is picky eating truly a problem?” said lead author Nancy Zucker, Ph.D., director of the Duke Center for Eating Disorders. “The children we’re talking about are not just misbehaving kids who refuse to eat their broccoli.”

Children with both moderate and severe selective eating habits showed symptoms of anxiety and other mental conditions. The study also found that children with selective eating behaviors were nearly twice as likely to have increased symptoms of generalized anxiety at follow-up intervals during the study, which screened an initial 3,433 children.

The findings also suggest that parents are in conflict with their children regularly over food — which does not necessarily result in the child eating — and families and their doctors need new tools to address the problem, Zucker said.

“There’s no question that not all children go on to have chronic selective eating in adulthood,” Zucker said. “But because these children are seeing impairment in their health and well-being now, we need to start developing ways to help these parents and doctors know when and how to intervene.”

Zucker said some children who refuse to eat might have heightened senses, which can make the smell, texture and tastes of certain foods overwhelming, causing aversion and disgust. Some children may have had a bad experience with a certain food, and develop anxiety when trying another new food or being forced to try the offensive food again, she said

My son lives on cheese and pasta. We worry.

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