Picky eating and weight in childhood

Picky eating and child weight status development: a longitudinal study

Antoniou et al., JHND Early View

Background

Children’s picky eating behaviour has been linked both to being overweight and underweight. However, the role of parenting practices in this relationship has rarely been investigated. The present study aimed to clarify the direction of the association between picky eating and weight status and to examine the moderating role of food parenting practices.

Methods

The present study comprised a longitudinal study on the effects of picky eating on child weight status within the KOALA Birth Cohort Study, the Netherlands. Mothers and their children were included in the analyses. Children’s picky eating behaviour and food parenting practices were assessed at baseline (child age 5 years). Their weight status was assessed repeatedly until age 9 years. Mixed effects linear and logistic regressions were used to compare picky eaters (n = 403) and non-picky eaters (n = 621) on changes in weight status over the years.

Results

At baseline of age 5 years, picky eaters were slightly shorter, more often underweight and less often overweight than non-picky eaters, whereas energy intake in relation to body weight (kJ kg−1) was similar. Picky eaters with a normal weight at baseline had no increased risk of becoming underweight during follow-up until age 9 years, and were less likely to become overweight compared to non-picky eaters. There were no interactions with food parenting practices. The parents of picky eaters more often reported pressuring their child to eat and restrict unhealthy food intake compared to parents of non-picky eaters.

Conclusions

The association between picky eating and child weight status was not influenced by parenting practices.

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