Recollections of pressure to eat during childhood, but not picky eating, predict young adult eating behavior

Appetite. 2016 Feb 1:97:58-63. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.11.020. Epub 2015 Nov 22.


Picky eating is a childhood behavior that vexes many parents and is a symptom in the newer diagnosis of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) in adults. Pressure to eat, a parental controlling feeding practice aimed at encouraging a child to eat more, is associated with picky eating and a number of other childhood eating concerns. Low intuitive eating, an insensitivity to internal hunger and satiety cues, is also associated with a number of problem eating behaviors in adulthood. Whether picky eating and pressure to eat are predictive of young adult eating behavior is relatively unstudied. Current adult intuitive eating and disordered eating behaviors were self-reported by 170 college students, along with childhood picky eating and pressure through retrospective self- and parent reports. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that childhood parental pressure to eat, but not picky eating, predicted intuitive eating and disordered eating symptoms in college students. These findings suggest that parental pressure in childhood is associated with problematic eating patterns in young adulthood. Additional research is needed to understand the extent to which parental pressure is a reaction to or perhaps compounds the development of problematic eating behavior.

Keywords: Avoidant eating; Disordered eating; Eating behavior; Intuitive eating; Picky eating; Pressure.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia / psychology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Young Adult