Raising a fussy eater? Genes to blame more than parenting, says study

When your precious progeny refuses to eat yet another nutritious and delectable dish you’ve slaved over, you can take heart from this research.

Dealing with a child that is a fussy eater is always tough – but the reason they won’t eat what you want them to could be all your fault.

According to the UK research published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, fussy eating and a refusal to try new foods are heavily influenced by the child’s genetic makeup, and are not just a result of upbringing.

The research used data from the Gemini study, the largest twin cohort in the world. The study, conducted by University College London, analysed the eating behaviours of 1921 families with 16-month-old twins.

And it concluded that children are “born” with fussy eating habits – and that it’s down more genetics than parenting.

However, the research did provide evidence that parental actions can still influence eating behaviour in toddlers.

“We know that genes are not our destiny,” said Andrea Smith, PhD student and lead author of the research. “Parents can positively influence their child’s eating behaviours.”

She added in an interview with The Guardian that parents should not force or bribe their child to eat a “problem” food, but instead repeatedly offer it to the child outside of mealtimes and praise any attempt by the child to touch or smell it.

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