Picky Eating in Childhood: Associations with Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms

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Objective: To test whether childhood picky eating (PE)-a behavior previously linked to many forms of psychopathology-is specifically associated with symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Methods: We investigated the relationship between PE and symptoms of several forms of psychopathology in two separate observational samples: A sample of 110 children (5 and 6 years old) and a sample of 210 children (8 and 9 years old) drawn from a longitudinal study. In each sample, regression models based on psychiatric symptoms or diagnoses were used to assess the specificity of PE associations while accounting for cooccurring symptoms or comorbidities. Results: Although bivariate associations emerged between PE and multiple forms of psychopathology, multivariate analyses revealed these associations were driven by a strong and specific association between PE and symptoms of OCD in both samples. Moreover, PE among 8-and 9-year-olds in the longitudinal study predicted emergence of additional later psychopathology, specifically attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Conclusions: Findings suggest that PE, an easily identifiable clinical presentation, is also a specific marker for obsessive-compulsive symptomatology in school-Age children and may impart risk for ADHD later in childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-826
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022


  • ADHD
  • Contamination
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Picky eating
  • Selective eating


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