BOONE, N.C. — Is picky eating more than an acknowledged childhood phase?
Research by Appalachian State University alumnus Jordan Ellis ’15, Dr. Amy Galloway, professor in the university’s Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology, and others indicates appetitive behaviors such as picky/fussy eating may carry over from one’s child and adolescent years into adulthood.
The article detailing their findings, titled “A functional description of adult picky eating using latent profile analysis,” appeared in the online, peer-reviewed International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (IJBNPA) — the official journal of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity — in November 2018. IJBNPA is a publication of BioMed Central (BMC) Ltd., which is a part of Springer Nature.
In the paper’s abstract, the authors state, “Previous research identified a (picky eater) PE profile in children, marked by high food avoidance (satiety responsiveness, fussiness, and slow eating) and low food approach (food enjoyment and responsiveness) appetitive traits.
“Research has indicated that adult picky eating (PE) is associated with elevated psychosocial impairment, as well as limited dietary variety and fruit and vegetable intake.”
The team completed their research by using data collected from a sample of 1,339 U.S. adults recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk), an online marketplace where both companies and individuals can coordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks outside the ability of computers.
The study participants completed an online survey that included a modified self-report version of the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire (CEBQ-A), a parent-rated instrument designed to assess eight dimensions of eating style in children developed through previous research by faculty at University College London.
According to the study’s results, participants in the picky eater profile (18.1 percent) scored higher on measures of adult picky eating and social eating anxiety compared to all other profiles. Additionally, those in the picky eater profile scored higher on eating-related impairment and depression than those in the moderate eater profile and were more likely to be of normal weight.
Through the team’s research, a distinct adult PE profile was observed, indicating childhood PE and appetitive behaviors may carry over into adulthood.
“Research identifying meaningful groups of picky eaters will help to shed light on the conditions under which picky eating is a risk factor for significant psychosocial impairment or distress, or weight-related problems,” the authors state in the paper’s abstract.
Appalachian’s Office of Student Research provided some funding for Ellis and Galloway’s project.
About the Appalachian authors
Ellis, of Asheville, holds a Master of Arts in clinical health psychology from Appalachian and a Bachelor of Science in health and wellness promotion from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in East Carolina University’s health psychology program with a concentration in clinical health psychology.
He has presented his research at multiple conferences, including the 39th Annual Meeting of the Society for Behavioral Medicine, the 32nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the 49th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Ellis’ research has been published in journals such as Psychological Assessment, the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, and Appetite.
Galloway, a professor in Appalachian’s Department of Psychology, holds a Ph.D. in biopsychology from the University of Georgia, as well as an M.S. in animal behavior from Bucknell University and a B.A. in psychology from Furman University.
Additionally, she holds a certificate in conservation ecology and sustainable development from the University of Georgia, and she completed an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship in developmental psychology at Penn State University from 2000–03.
Her research and service interests include development of food preferences; picky eating; normal and disordered eating in children and adults; parent and child food interactions; and sustainable and community food system research.
Galloway and her colleagues have studied eating behavior in nonhuman and human primates at various stages of life, including the prenatal period, infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence and across adulthood.
Her research has been published in such journals as Frontiers in Endocrinology, Appetite, Body Image, Psychological Assessment, International Journal of Pediatric Obesity and many others.
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About the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (IJBNPA) is devoted to furthering the understanding of the behavioral aspects of diet and physical activity and includes multiple levels of analysis, including populations, groups and individuals, as well as epidemiology and behavioral, theoretical and measurement research areas. IJBNPA prioritizes research based on randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews (with or without meta-analyses, as appropriate) and observational studies. Learn more at https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com.
About the Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology
Appalachian’s Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology serves more than 1,000 undergraduate majors seeking the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, as well as 80 graduate students in the master’s degree programs in clinical psychology, experimental psychology, school psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology and human resource management. Its new Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program began admitting students in fall 2019. Learn more at https://psych.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.