Attention parents of picky eaters: Stop worrying. According to Finnish researchers, your child may be eating more than you think. They found few differences between the diets of children described as poor eaters and those of other kids.
Looking at nearly 500 5-year-olds, the researchers asked parents to complete a questionnaire about their child's food intake and to track what their child ate over four days. The fussy kids weighed less and were shorter than other children, but they were also lighter and shorter at birth. When adjusted for weight, their intake of calories and most nutrients, including vitamin C and iron, was not very different from that of other kids. (Poor eaters had a slightly lower intake of fiber and calcium.)
The only big difference was that the picky kids tended to get more of their calories from snacks rather than from regular meals. "For these children," says Jo-Ann Heslin, RD, "it's even more important to offer nutritious snacks, such as chocolate milk, yogurt, fruit, or fruit-juice pops."
Originally published in American Baby magazine, June 2004.