- Scientists surveyed almost 1,000 parents about their children’s eating styles
- Their results suggest that all children fit into one of four eating categories
Mealtimes are something that scares many parents, as mothers and fathers are known to have difficulty getting their children to eat enough vegetables.
But a new study suggests that contrary to popular belief, only 16 percent of children should be considered “picky” eaters.
Researchers at Aston University surveyed almost 1,000 British parents about their children’s eating styles.
Their results suggest that all Children fit into one of four eating categories.
While 16 percent of children are considered “picky,” the other 84 percent are either “enthusiastic,” “happy” or “typical” eaters, they say.
A new study suggests that, contrary to popular belief, only 16 percent of children should be classified as “picky” eaters (stock image)
The four eating styles
- Average (44%) – typical eaters
- Picky (16%) – Eat slowly and with little enjoyment
- Happy (18%) – enjoy eating and are not picky
- Enthusiastic (22%) – Enjoy food but eat too quickly
In the study, the team examined eating behavior patterns in elementary school children and how these are related to dietary practices.
Researchers surveyed 995 parents and carers of three to five-year-olds in England and Wales about their children’s eating habits across eight behaviours.
These were food responsiveness, emotional overeating, food enjoyment, desire to drink, satiety, slow eating, emotional undereating, and excitement while eating.
The results were then compiled and revealed four different categories of eaters.
44 percent of the children had “average” levels of all eight behaviors and should be classified as “typical” eaters, according to the researchers.
16 percent are now considered “avoidant” (or picky) eaters.
Compared to the three other profiles, “avoidant eating” was characterized by a significantly high level of excitement while eating, feeling full, slow eating and emotional undereating, while at the same time significantly less enjoyment of food,” the researchers write in their published study in Appetite.
44 percent of the children had an “average” level of all eight behaviors and, according to the researchers, should be classified as “typical” eaters (archive image).
Eighteen percent are “happy” eaters who had high levels of food enjoyment but low levels of slow eating, food fussiness, emotional overeating, and emotional undereating.
Finally, 22 percent were classified as “avid” eaters, which showed an increase Pleasure in eating, faster eating speed and weaker sensitivity to internal signals of “satiety”.
Researchers say children in this group are at highest risk of overeating and subsequently gaining weight.
The team hopes the findings could be used to develop more personalized strategies to improve healthy eating in children.
Dr. Abigail Pickard, lead author of the study, said: “Parents can use this research to understand their child’s eating habits.
“Based on the child’s eating profile, parents can then adapt their nutritional strategies to the child.”
“For example, children with a voracious eating profile may benefit more from covert food restrictions, that is, not bringing home snacks or not displaying food to reduce the temptation to eat food when not hungry. “
“On the other hand, if a child exhibits picky eating behavior, it would be more beneficial for the child to display a balanced and varied selection of foods to encourage trying foods without pressure to eat.”