Picky eating: Associations with child eating characteristics and food intake

Klazine van der Horst, Denise M. Deming, Ruta O. Lesniauskas, B. Thomas Carr, Kathleen C. Reidy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Food rejection behaviors such as picky eating are of concern for many parents and attempts to increase healthy food intake can cause distress at mealtimes. An important limitation in most of the picky eating studies is that they cover few characteristics of picky eating behaviors and use limited measures of food intake. The objective of this study was to explore the associations between picky eating, child eating characteristics, and food intake among toddlers 12-47.9 months old (n = 2371) using data from the 2008 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS). Logistic regression was used to examine associations between demographic and feeding characteristics and picky eater status. Differences in food group intake between picky and non-picky eaters were analyzed. Picky eaters were more likely to be neophobic, texture resistant, and to eat only favorite foods, In addition, the parents of picky eaters tend to offer new food a greater number of times than those of non-picky eaters before deciding that the child does not like it. Picky eaters showed significant lower intakes of eggs, burritos/tacos/enchiladas/nachos and sandwiches than non-picky eaters. Picky eaters consumed fewer vegetables from the "other vegetables" category and less raw vegetables than non-picky eaters. Neophobia, eating only favorite foods and difficulties with texture are all important characteristics of picky eaters which need to be integrated in studies measuring picky eating behaviors. Food intake of picky eaters differs only slightly from non-picky eaters. Because picky eating is a major parental concern, feeding strategies and advice related to the relevant characteristics of picky eating behavior need to be developed and assessed for their effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-293
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2016


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