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Health Education Blog

Is Picky Eating an Early Warning Sign of Childhood Obesity?

Posted by Staff on May 01, 2018

Picky Eating - Childhood Obesity

Being the parent of a picky eater can be frustrating at times. No matter what meals you prepare, your picky eater will often refuse to eat what is on their plate. Most picky eaters have a select few dishes that they are willing to eat. People have different views about picky eaters. There are some people who believe that children are picky eaters because they are spoiled. Others believe that when a child is a picky eater that they are just going through a phase. According to Healthline, picky eating could be linked to depression or anxiety. Whatever the reason your child is picky with what they eat, it can not only be frustrating, it can also cause you to worry that your child isn't getting the nutrients that they need to be healthy.


Types of Picky Eaters

According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, there are three types of picky eaters.

  • Selective Eaters: Most of the picky eaters are selective eaters. These children often eat what is put in front of them, however, there are certain foods that they won't eat.

  • Moderately Picky Eaters: These children tend to be pickier than selective eaters, however, they will still eat some of the meals that they are served.

  • Severely Selective Eaters: The children who are severely selective eaters usually won't eat anything that is put in front of them. They often have a select few foods that they are willing to eat. This can affect the way that the child is able to eat with others. Parents often end up making a separate meal for them.

The Dangers of Picky Eating

If you are a parent of a picky eater, you likely cater to what your child wants. As long as they are eating something, you don't need to worry. What you may not know is that catering to your child's pickiness can have a negative effect on their health and their overall well being. There are a few dangers associated with picky eating that you may not even be aware of. 

  • Failure to thrive: If your child is a picky eater, they could suffer from failure to thrive. This means that their physical growth will be decelerated. If your child has failure to thrive, their height and weight will fall below the third to fifth percentile.

  • Vitamin deficiency issues: If your child is refusing to eat fruits, vegetables, and protein, they could develop vitamin deficiency problems that can affect their weight, height, and even their mental status.

  • Obesity: If your child is a picky eater, there is a good chance that they can become obese. Here are another 3 warning signs of childhood obesity.

Why Are Picky Eaters at Risk of Becoming Obese?

There are many people who think that if a child is a picky eater that they will be underweight. It is actually the exact opposite. According to the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, picky eaters are at a higher risk of becoming obese or overweight as older children and adolescents. This is due to the child preferring high-calorie foods, processed foods, and eating fewer fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. For example, if your child will only eat certain foods such as macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, each of their meals is loaded with calories and carbohydrates. When every meal that your child eats is so high in calories and carbs, it won't be long before they start putting on weight. Once the weight is on, it can be difficult to get it off. If your picky eater is already putting on a significant amount of weight that has your worried, you should visit your everyday health care clinic thereafter known as a walk-in clinic or clinic. The medical professionals in these facilities can discuss your child's diet with you. If necessary, they can refer you to a nutritionist who can get involved with your child's case before their weight issue leads to obesity.

How To Get a Picky Eater To Eat New Foods

Being the parent of a picky eater can be tough. Many parents believe that it is easier to give in to their child rather than turning every meal into a battle of wills. If your child is a picky eater, it is best to break them out of the cycle early. There are a few tips that you should follow to get your picky eater to start trying new foods.

  1. Have your child help with meals: When you go shopping, take your child with you. When you are in the produce section, allow your child to choose the vegetables that they are going to help you cook. If your child chooses the vegetables and they help you prepare them, they will be more likely to want to try what they helped prepare.

  2. Make food fun: If you are struggling to get your child to eat vegetables, serve them with your favorite dips or sauces. For example, broccoli is great with cheese sauce. While this will increase the number of calories that your child is consuming, they are still getting the vitamins and nutrients that they need. You can also use various shaped cookie cutters to make the food look fun.

  3. Add to your child's favorite foods: If you can get creative, you might be able to help your child get the nutrients that they need. For example, if your child will only eat macaroni and cheese, chop up some broccoli or carrots and add it to their dish. You may not be winning the battle, however, your child will still be eating the healthy foods that they need.

  4. Don't provide alternatives: If you plan a meal for the family, your child should eat that meal as well. If you are constantly offering to make your child something different, it will just make the problem worse. You are the parent and it is up to you to set the rules.

  5. Contact a professional: As mentioned above, picky eating can be a result of anxiety or depression. If you cannot get your child to eat the foods you serve, you should take your child to see the professionals at Orchard Hospital. If the issue is due to depression or anxiety, the sooner you find out, the sooner your child can get the treatment that they need. Treatment could resolve the problem.

  6. Supplement your child's diet: While you are trying to break your child out of their picky eating habits, you should supplement their diet so that they are getting the nutrients that they need to be healthy. Pediasure Shakes for Kids and Ensure Shakes for Kids contain the vitamins and nutrients that your child needs to be healthy and they taste great. If you cannot get your child to eat healthy, you can give them a few of these shakes each day to supplement their diet.

Picky eating is not something that you should ignore. It can result in obesity and other health problems. The sooner you address the problem, the easier it will be to break them out of the habit, allowing them to enjoy meals with the family. For 5 Simple ways to fight childhood obesity click here.


A Parent's Guide to Understanding Childhood Obesity

Topics: Childhood Obesity

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