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Study: Toddlers’ Picking Eating Habits Not Parents’ Fault

Dorathy Gass

There are toddlers who love to eat, and then those who can be fussy eaters. For parents who struggle with picky eaters, mealtimes can become a stressful situation where they consistently blame themselves for the poor eating choices their young child may make.

Still, CNN revealed that a recent study advises this fussy eating may be a result of genetics, and not parenting techniques. More so, co-author Andrea Smith, University College London (UCL) PhD student indicates that adding pressure to a toddler when it comes to a diverse diet may backfire. In fact, she states that mealtimes should be a positive experience to help them move forward.

The team reviewed the eating habits of over 1,900 pairs of twins, 16 months in age. The study examined toddlers with high-selective tendencies and how they chose food based on smells, tastes, textures, as well as refusing to try new foods introduced to them. The team combined this analysis with questionnaires that were filled out by parents. They reviewed how home life (i.e. parental behavior) and genes play a part when it comes to a toddler’s food fussiness. What the study revealed was there was substantial influence when it came to genes and food fussiness, along with the ability try new foods in early ages.

Genetics were found in 58 percent of the cases when refusing new foods, and 45 percent when it came to being fussy with foods.

The team used fraternal twins (which share 50 percent of their genes) as well as identical twins (who share 100 percent of them) to compare genetics with other elements within the study.

Other items that contribute to food fussiness includes the way parents handled meal times and if they pressured their child around eating. Smith adds that negative mealtimes tend to create tension for children which further enhance fussiness.

It also seems like weaning may play a pivotal role when it comes to fussiness around food. UCL pediatric specialist, Dr. Alastair Sutcliffe chimed in saying that parents can offer too much of a good thing in sweet foods while babies are being introduced to food, instead of starting them off on a variety of foods in their diet to diversify their taste range. He goes on to say that they can suffer from health issues from this fussiness at times (although it is rare), but this can lead to anemia or constipation.

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