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Three Trajectories of Picky Eating Identified in Children

Membership in high picky-eating trajectory tied to higher child emotional lability, lower emotional regulation

parent and fussy eater

TUESDAY, May 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Three stable trajectories of picky eating have been identified in childhood from ages 4 to 9 years, with maternal feeding behaviors associated with picky eating, according to a study published online May 26 in Pediatrics.

Carmen Fernandez, M.P.H., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues administered questionnaires to 317 mother-child dyads reporting on picky eating and maternal feeding behaviors at child ages of 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 years. Mothers reported on demographics and child emotional regulation at baseline. Using latent class analysis, trajectories of picky eating and maternal feeding behaviors were identified. The associations of picky-eating trajectory membership with baseline characteristics and maternal feeding-behavioral trajectory memberships were examined.

The researchers identified three trajectories of picky eating: persistently low, persistently medium, and persistently high (29, 57, and 14 percent, respectively). There was an association noted for membership in the high picky-eating trajectory with higher child emotional lability and lower child emotional regulation. There was an association for picky eating with restriction and demandingness trajectory memberships; low picky eating was associated with low restriction, while high picky eating was associated with high demandingness. There was an association noted for medium and high picky-eating trajectories with lower body mass index z score.

"High picky eating was associated with higher restriction and demandingness," the authors write. "Future work examining effects of picky-eating interventions on children's weight gain and maternal feeding-behavior trajectories [is] needed."

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