Professor of Preventive Medicine
PI Cardiovascular Epidemiology Group
Monday, 19th March, 2018
Are parents’ anxiety and depression related to child fussy eating?
- Archives of Disease in Childhood
- Publication Date
- Volume (Issue)
Fussy eating is an issue that affects many families with young children.Read more
To examine the association between parental anxiety and depression with child fussy eating—that is, consistent rejection of particular food items.
This study was embedded in Generation R, a prospective cohort from fetal life onwards in the Netherlands.
4746 4-year-old children and their parents.
Parental internalising problems (ie, symptoms of anxiety and depression) were assessed with the Brief Symptoms Inventory during pregnancy and the preschool period (child age 3 years).
Main outcome measure
The food fussiness scale of the Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire.
Maternal anxiety during pregnancy and during the child’s preschool period was related to higher food fussiness sum-scores in children. For instance, per point on the anxiety scale in pregnancy, children had on average a 1.02 higher sum-score (95% CI 0.59 to 1.46) on the food fussiness scale, after adjustment for confounders. Likewise, mothers’ depressive symptoms at both time points were associated with fussy eating behaviour in their children (eg, in the antenatal period: per point on the depression scale, children had a 0.91 point higher sum-score on the food fussiness scale, 95% CI 0.49 to 1.33). We found largely similar associations between fathers’ internalising problems and children’s fussy eating. However, fathers’ anxiety during the antenatal period was not related to child fussy eating.
Maternal and paternal internalising problems were prospectively associated with fussy eating in preschoolers. Healthcare practitioners should be aware that non-clinical symptoms of anxiety and depression in parents are risk factors for child fussy eating.