Mothers may cause girls to be picky eaters

Researchers at Appalachian State University have found that mothers who consumed more fruits and vegetables are less likely to pressure their daughters to eat and their daughters are less picky, eat more fruits and vegetables, eat fewer fats and sweets and are less likely to be overweight.

The study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association which looked at the eating habits of more than 180 girls, at ages 7 and 9, is part of a larger study of the health and development of young girls.

Parents are often concerned when their children refuse to eat certain foods and research on picky eating is limited but recent findings suggest that prior food experience plays a role in picky eating, and that duration of breast feeding and mothers' consumption of vegetables are both "negatively related" to picky eating.

Bouts of independence are part of being a young child and parental pressure might possibly lead to picky eating among children. They found that pressure from mothers to eat when girls were 7 and girls' picky eating at age 9 were connected to the use of parental pressure in feeding possibly promotes both picky eating and lower fruit and vegetable consumption.

The research also revealed that all girls consumed low amounts of specific vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin E, calcium and magnesium, picky eaters consumed significantly less amount of fibre than non-picky eaters and the authors suggest parents of young children "should focus less on 'picky eating' behaviours and more on modelling fruit and vegetable consumption for their children."

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