BACKGROUND: Most children have periods in their life where they reject familiar as well as non-familiar food items and this is often referred to as pickiness. The consequences of pickiness may be malnutrition and, if prolonged, potentially lower body weight. However, studies investigating the consequence of pickiness on subsequent changes in diet intake and weight are limited.
OBJECTIVES: To examine whether pickiness influences body mass index as well as diet intake over subsequent 15 months among obesity prone normal weight children aged 2-6 years.
METHODS: Data was obtained from the "Healthy Start" intervention study which included 271 children aged 2-6 years susceptible to overweight later in life. Information on pickiness was obtained from a parental questionnaire. Dietary habits were collected by 4-day dietary records filled in by the parents and height and weight were measured by trained health professionals and both measured twice over a 15 month period. Linear regression models were performed to assess the influence of pickiness on body mass index and diet with adjustments for possible confounders.
RESULTS: No differences in mean BMI Z-score were seen between picky/non-picky (P = 0.68) and little picky/non-picky (P = 0.68) children at 15 month follow-up. Picky children had a lower intake of protein (P = 0.01) than non-picky children despite no differences in total energy intake (P = 0.74), or in the other macronutrients, or the intake of fruit and vegetables, though children being a little picky had a lower intake of starch compared to non-picky children (P = 0.05). Results were essentially similar before and after adjustment for key covariates.
CONCLUSION: Our study showed that BMI Z-score after 15 months follow-up was similar for picky and non-picky children. Picky children seemed to develop a lower protein intake despite similar total energy intake and diet composition.