Selective eaters: a retrospective case note study


Dr S Timimi The Department of Psychological Medicine Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children Great Ormond Street London WC1K 3JH UK


The literature on children who present with selective eating is limited to single case studies. This study aims to provide a descriptive clinical profile for these children. Case notes of 33 patients between 4 and 14 years of age, seen in two clinics over a 4-year-period were studied. Over two-thirds of the cases were boys. A significant minority had poor growth or weight gain. The children suffered from anxiety, obsessive compulsive symptoms, both food and non-food related and often had social and school difficulties. Mealtimes caused immense anxiety for family members and frequent mealtime battles was reported by the parents of the younger selective eaters, whereas parents of older children seemed to have given up trying to change their child's eating habits. A history of depression In at least one parent was found in a third of the parental couples.