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'Picky eater' kids could have deeper pschological issues


Children who have difficult eating behaviors or picky habits might actually be suffering from undiagnosed psychological problems, according to a study from the University of Montreal.

Current research about eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia suggest that these issues often show up around puberty, but the current study suggests that some behaviors might appear much earlier - disguised as picky eating or a restrictive attitude around food.

Researchers analyzed 215 children between the ages of 8 and 12 who had eating problems, while excluding any children that had physical issues that could cause eating difficulties.

What they found was that anxiety and mood disorders were common in these children, as well as early signs of eating disorders.

"More than 15.5% of the children in the study made themselves vomit occasionally and 13.3% presented bulimic behaviors," said Professor Dominique Meilleur, study author.

Gender doesn't matter

Interestingly, boys in the same age group were found to have the same issues as the girls.

About half the children in the study had been hospitalized at least once due to their eating issues, and 48 percent had received outpatient treatment.

Meilleur, who has been working with children who have body image anxiety for 20 years, says that many different factors can influence the development of eating disorders, like bullying, being mocked for looking a certain way, or the fear of putting on weight.

"These behaviors reflect the clinical presentations we observe in adolescents and support findings that body image is a preoccupation for some children as early as elementary school," Meilleur explained.

Source: Universite de Montreal