Young adult nutrition and weight correlates of picky eating during childhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External Institution(s)

  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-995
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number6
StatusPublished - Apr 1 2020


Objective: To identify whether picky eating during childhood is associated with dietary intake, weight status and disordered eating behaviour during young adulthood.Design: A population-based study using data from young adults who responded online or by mail to the third wave of the Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) study in 2008-2009. Participants retrospectively reported the extent to which they were a picky eater in childhood, sociodemographic characteristics, disordered eating behaviours, usual dietary intake, and weight and height.Setting: Participants were initially recruited in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area of Minnesota, USA, in 1998-1999.Participants: The analytic sample included 2275 young adults (55 % female, 48 % non-Hispanic White, mean age 25·3 (sd 1·6) years).Results: Young adults who reported picky eating in childhood were found to currently have lower intakes of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, and more frequent intakes of snack foods, sugar-sweetened beverages and foods from fast-food restaurants. No associations were observed between picky eating in childhood and young adults' weight status, use of weight-control strategies or report of binge eating.Conclusions: While young adults who report picky eating during childhood are not at higher risk for disordered eating, those who were picky eaters tend to have less healthy dietary intake. Food preferences and dietary habits established by picky eaters during childhood may persist into adulthood.

    Research areas

  • Child, Dietary variety, Picky eating, Young adult

Citation formats


Pesch, M. H., Bauer, K. W., Christoph, M. J., Larson, N., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2020). Young adult nutrition and weight correlates of picky eating during childhood. Public Health Nutrition, 23(6), 987-995.


Pesch, MH, Bauer, KW, Christoph, MJ, Larson, N & Neumark-Sztainer, D 2020, 'Young adult nutrition and weight correlates of picky eating during childhood', Public Health Nutrition, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 987-995.