Considering Nature and Nurture in the Etiology and Prevention of Picky Eating: A Narrative Review

Meera D. Patel, Sharon M. Donovan, Soo-Yeun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Children are often categorized as picky eaters by parents and caregivers for their rejection of foods, such as vegetables, and for exhibiting other difficult mealtime behaviors. However, there are several factors that contribute to these mealtime behaviors, including early feeding practices (i.e., breastfeeding, introduction to solid food), repeated exposure to novel foods, and genetic taste sensitivity to certain compounds. Using the online database of PubMed, a review of the literature on the development of picky eating in children, its outcomes, and intervention strategies was conducted. This review groups the developmental contributors to picky eating into the categories of nature and nurture and explores the interaction between the two. This paper will also summarize the potential outcomes of picky eating and the various strategies that are currently recommended to mitigate picky eating in young children. However, there is a lack of longitudinal work targeting consistent picky eating behaviors that have the potential to impact long-term food preferences and dietary variety. Future intervention strategies should address the factors that influence the development of picky eating on an individual level.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3409
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 6 2020


  • picky eating
  • taste sensitivity
  • exposure
  • eating behavior
  • vegetable intake
  • Exposure
  • Taste sensitivity
  • Vegetable intake
  • Picky eating
  • Eating behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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