Parental pressure, dietary patterns, and weight status among girls who are "picky eaters"

J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Apr;105(4):541-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2005.01.029.


Objective: To determine whether mothers' fruit and vegetable intake and mothers' use of pressure in the feeding domain when their daughters were 7 years old predicted picky eating and dietary intake when their daughters were 9 years old, and to examine diet and weight status in picky and nonpicky eaters.

Design/subjects: Participants were 173 9-year-old non-Hispanic white girls and their mothers. A longitudinal analysis was used to assess maternal influences on picky eating and diet. A cross-sectional analysis was used to examine diet and weight status between picky and nonpicky eaters. Measures included maternal feeding practices, daughters' pickiness, mothers' fruit and vegetable intake, daughters' food intake, and weight status.

Statistical analyses: t tests examined differences between picky and nonpicky eaters. Structural equation modeling examined relationships among mothers' fruit and vegetable intake; child feeding practices; daughters' pickiness; and fruit, vegetable, micronutrient, and fiber intakes.

Results: Mothers consuming more fruits and vegetables were less likely to pressure their daughters to eat and had daughters who were less picky and consumed more fruits and vegetables. Picky eaters consumed fewer fruits and vegetables, but also fewer fats and sweets. All girls consumed low amounts of vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium, but more picky girls were at risk for not meeting recommendations for vitamins E and C and also consumed significantly less fiber. In addition, picky eaters were less likely to be overweight.

Conclusions: Mothers influenced daughters' fruit and vegetable intake via their own patterns of fruit and vegetable intake and by influencing their daughters' tendencies to be picky eaters. Both picky and nonpicky eaters had aspects of their diets that did not meet recommendations. Taken together, these findings suggest that parents should focus less on "picky eating" behavior and more on modeling fruit and vegetable consumption for their children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Maternal Behavior / physiology
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Psychology, Child
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Micronutrients