Are you raising a picky eater? If so, you're not alone. A recent study estimated that nearly 25% of children in the United States could be considered chronic picky eaters. The study indicated that children from lower-income families and children with younger parents were more likely to be picky eaters. It also indicated that children with somatic complaints and attention problems were pickier than their peers.
Some parents write off picky eating as a phase. However, studies have shown that pickier eaters can have lower IQs. Children with special needs are more likely to develop food aversions and become picky eaters. But their typical peers have been developing picky eating styles more rapidly. And this should not be ignored.
Sets of identical twins were the subjects of testing regarding picky eating. In this particular study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in the 1970s one twin was a good eater and the other one was considered picky. Picky eating was found to contribute small but reliable discrepancies in mental development among the twins. The picky eaters consistently did worse across the board as they developed and performed in the classroom. Boys were more affected than girls.
Not only can picky eaters have a lower IQ, they can become less healthy overall. One study found that even moderate picky eating can have negative effects on a child's health. Food aversions can create nutritional deficiencies and put stress on a parent-child relationship. Moderate picky eating can also lead to serious issues like depression and anxiety. Children who are depressed and anxious often don't perform as well in school. Thus, it may appear that they have a lower IQ, and they may find it more difficult to concentrate in the classroom.
If you think your child is suffering from picky eating, you should consult a health care professional such as a nutritionist, nutritional therapy practitioner, gastrointestinal specialist, or an allergist to discuss ways to treat the picky eating. In the meantime, you can help your child better meet nutritional recommendations by having them supplement with a multi-vitamin specifically formulated for children. I personally like the Smarty Pantsvitamins for kids.
Have you found ways to help your picky eater learn to love new foods? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.