Fussy Eaters: Parents’ Perceptions and Strategies
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background – Approximately 25-40% of children experience fussy eating (Mascola et al, 2010). Fussy eating commonly includes the rejection of certain foods and textures (Lafraire, 2016). Research suggests fruit and vegetables are one of the most commonly rejected foods. (Lafraire et al, 2016; Taylor et al, 2015). However, it is noted that food preferences of a child may be influenced by family and friends over time, (Laureati, 2014). Methods – A cross-sectional study design was chosen. A self-administered questionnaire was used to explore perceptions and strategies. Parents had the option of a follow-up interview to explore aspects in more depth. Results – A questionnaire was distributed to 46 people. Thirty-seven were completed, (80% response rate). The most common food group among children requiring encouragement eating was fruit and vegetables (59%). Textures was identified as a feature of food that was disliked by children, (54%) with 26% indicating lumps in particular. Over half of participants (54%), indicated that children’s food choices were not influenced by family and friends. Twenty five percent of children who ‘always’ or ‘most times’ have fussy eating tendencies indicated they were influenced. Techniques used by parents in the home included food restriction, (68%), such as refusing pudding and snacks, with 48% choosing to involve the child in food preparation. Conclusion – This study suggests that parents have a good knowledge of fussy eating and use a variety of techniques to overcome this. Fruit, vegetables and textures are the most common features of food which is refused. Results also suggest that children’s food choices are not influenced by others contrary to the evidence base.
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