Impact of Picky Eating on Level of Family Stress in Healthy Children between the Ages of 3 and 6 Years

Rocío Ramos-Paúla, Barbara J. Marriageb, Roberto Ruiz Debezac, Liliana Oliveros Leald, Luis Ros Mare, Luis Torres Cardonaa, Jennifer A. Williams*, b
a BIEM Center of Psychology, Madrid, Spain
b Abbott Nutrition, Columbus, Ohio, USA
c Abbott Nutrition, Abbott Park, Illinois, USA
d Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain
e Hospital Universitario Miguel Servet, Zaragoza, Spain

© 2014 Ramos-Paúl et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to the author at the 3300 Stelzer Road, RP3-2, Columbus,Ohio 43219; Tel: (614) 624-3933; Fax: 614-727-3933;



One of the goals of this study was to measure the impact of a child’s eating habits on a family’s level of stress related to meal times in the home.


A cross-sectional survey study was conducted on 1,090 children between the ages of three and six years, in Madrid, Spain from 2010 to 2011. Questionnaires about the child’s eating habits, family stress, and medical history, along with a three-day food record were filled out by parents.


Levels of family stress related to meal time occasions were statistically higher in the picky eater (PE) group compared to the healthy eater (HE) group (p=0.007).


This study demonstrates a possible relationship between picky eating behaviors and family stress in the home. Higher levels of family stress can have long-term negative behavioral consequences or changes on the family dynamic, which may further exacerbate feeding disorders.

Keywords: Family stress, feeding difficulty, feeding disorder, picky eating.