SINGAPORE : A new study has revealed that nearly half of parents surveyed here say their children are picky eaters.
The survey by the National University Hospital (NUH) and Abbott Nutrition, was conducted among 407 caregivers and parents to understand the feeding difficulties among children aged one to ten years. This is the first such study conducted in Asia.
Nearly half of the respondents said they were worried about their child’s physical and mental development due to picky eating.
They also used a variety of strategies such as modifying the texture of food to make it easy to eat and presenting food in a creative manner.
Parents and caregivers also said that dealing with their children who are picky eaters led to significant stress and anxiety.
Shirley Ng, a parent who had to put up with her two—year—old son’s eating habits, said: "It’s very hard because he’s very stubborn. If you give him vegetables for his meal and he doesn’t want to take it, he will not eat for the whole afternoon."
The survey also showed that picky eating can be a persistent problem and tackling it as early as possible is key.
Associate Professor Daniel Goh, Head & Senior Consultant of the Department of Paediatrics at NUH, said: "The concept that if we leave it long enough, it will disappear is probably not acceptable. First of all, it’s for the parents to identify the problem and they very often will have their own strategies to cope with this problem and to try and remedy it. But if their coping strategies don’t improve the situation, then perhaps they would need to seek medical attention."
Experts suggest establishing set meal times and to get their children to avoid snacking.
Parents can send their children who are picky eaters to be assessed at the National University Hospital Feeding and Nutrition Clinic.
The one—stop centre is helmed by a multi—disciplinary feeding team that comprises dieticians, speech therapists, child psychologists and paediatricians. The team assesses the children, makes recommendations for diagnosis and management and customises treatment and therapy according to the needs of each child.
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