Experts shed light on picky eaters

Experts shed light on picky eaters
Experts shed light on picky eaters (Source: WOIO)

Many parents know the frustration of dealing with kids who are picky eaters. It can feel like no matter what you do you can't get them to eat what they should.

Experts say some kids may not be simply defiant. There might actually be more going on.

Experts say there is a difference between stubborn picky eaters and what they call the "extremely" picky eaters.

Cara Louis Amo knows the feeling well.

"Do you like this? Will you eat that? How about these?" she asks of her six-year-old son Trey, desperate to find something he will tolerate.

"That's when we began to hear a lot of kids go through this and then they grow out of it. Toddlers are busy," Cara said. "They are not going to starve themselves. That was the advice we were getting."

For parents of picky eaters the "just wait" advice is good advice.

But Trey's case was different. His type of very limited eating put him in a group known as "severely selective eaters." Only about three percent of kids are this picky when it comes to food.

"This is not a control battle. These kids gag when they taste new food. They have a genuine disgust reaction to some of the smells of things," said Dr. Nancy Zucker, an eating disorders specialist at Duke Medicine.

A study at Duke Medicine shows a link between selective eaters and mental health: these kids are twice as likely as other children to develop emotional problems like depression or anxiety over time.

Cara says that information is a good head's up for her and parents like her.

"It's just something we can have in our back pocket, something we can just be aware of over time," Cara said.

It is still unclear why some kids become selective eaters and others don't.

Researchers believe they are getting closer to figuring out the underlying reasons for the behavior.

Copyright 2015 WOIO. All rights reserved.