Get access

Picky eating in adults: Results of a web-based survey.


  • Several terms including picky eating, selective eating, food neophobia, and sensory sensitivity have been used in the literature to describe patterns of persistent food avoidance or restriction in the absence of an eating disorder. We have elected to use the term picky eating in this manuscript for pragmatic purposes



To gather information about picky eating and its correlates in adults and to determine whether picky eating is distinct from other eating disorder symptoms.


Nearly 6,895 adults completed a web-based survey of picky eating behaviors, eating disorder symptoms, and putative associated features. Latent class analysis was used to identify groups based on picky eating and eating disorder symptoms, and groups were compared on salient demographic and clinical characteristics.


The latent class analysis identified four distinct groups that differed in severity of clinical correlates and levels of impairment. Morbidity was highest in the comorbid picky eating/eating disorder group, followed by the eating disorder, picky eating, and low pathology groups, respectively.


Future research is needed to document the continuity of picky eating from childhood, establish the epidemiology of picky eating in adults, clarify thresholds of clinical significance, and elucidate clinical features that will inform nosology. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012)