Children may develop poor eating habits for several reasons, including:
- Available food choices.
- If candy and soft drinks are available, most children will choose these rather than healthier foods.
- Fast foods and processed foods are widely available. But they usually contain few or no fruits or vegetables, and they often have a lot of salt, sugar, or fat.
- Fast-food restaurants offer large portions that can lead children to eat more than their bodies need.
- Food marketing.
Marketing creates a desire for less-than-healthy foods.
- Foods advertised during children's TV shows tend to have very little nutritional value.
- Marketing often targets children through tie-ins between movies, fast-food restaurants, and toys.
- Snack foods are marketed for their fun and taste, not for their nutritional value.
- The need for personal choice.
Power struggles between a parent and child can affect eating behavior. If children are pressured to eat a certain food, they are more likely to refuse to eat that food, even if it is something they usually would enjoy.
Sadness, anxiety, or a family crisis can cause a child to undereat or overeat. Trying to resolve the emotional problem may work better than focusing on the eating behavior.