Defining perceptions of picky eating obtained through focus groups and conjoint analysis

Mandy M. Boquin, Howard R. Moskowitz, Sharon M. Donovan, Soo Yeun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Picky eating is a challenging mealtime behavior prevalent during the toddler years. An operational definition of picky eating does not exist in the scientific literature, which makes it difficult to consistently quantify the degree of picky eating. Yet, those who talk about picky eating, especially mothers, "know it when they see it, or when it is described." This study used focus groups and conjoint analysis in a novel approach to investigate the perceptions of picky eating. Four categories were developed from three focus groups (N=19): "before mealtime behaviors," "during mealtime behaviors," "general mealtime preferences" and "food sensory-dependent preferences." The focus groups were followed by a conjoint analysis study which revealed four segments: "The Sensory Dependent" (n=72), "The General Perfectionists" (n=159), "The Behavioral Responders" (n=54) and "The Preferential Eaters" (n=74). The segments differed in the specific elements driving the description of a child considered a picky eater. The study develops a classification method to define picky eaters, and suggests innovative interventions for each of the four segments of picky eating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-138
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Sensory Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Sensory Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Defining perceptions of picky eating obtained through focus groups and conjoint analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this