When it comes to kids’ health, parents have plenty to worry about. Are your kids getting enough sleep and exercise? Too much screen time and sugar? And why are they "allergic" to vegetables? Mealtime can be an especially troublesome spot. Picky eating tends to peak in the toddler and preschool years, but it’s a problem some parents face all the way through the teens. (I have a nine-year-old who is adamant about what he doesn't like, which would be fine if some of those foods are ones he's never even tried.)
A study published in the journal Nutrients looked at whether kids who were picky eaters at age three stayed that way through adolescence and what effects it might have on their health. The results? There’s good news and bad news.
The Good News
Researchers found that children who were picky eaters at age three did still eat less fruit, vegetables, and meat at the age of ten than their peers. But by thirteen, dietary differences were beginning to shrink between the picky and non-picky groups. So it seems most kids do outgrow picky eating.
The Bad News
While all the kids in the study were getting enough protein in their diets, most youngsters were not eating enough fruit and vegetables, even the ones who weren’t particularly picky.1,2 (The Centers for Disease Control recommends that kids aged 2-18 eat 1-2 cups of fruit and 1-3 cups of vegetables every day, depending on age, gender, and physical activity level.3)