Relationships between sensory sensitivity, anxiety and selective eating in children

Claire V. Farrow, Helen Coulthard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examines whether parental reports of child selective eating are associated with child anxiety and sensitivity to sensory stimuli in their environment. Parents of 95 children aged 5-10 completed questionnaires about child eating behavior, child anxiety and sensory sensitivity. Results indicated that both anxiety and sensory sensitivity were associated with selective eating. In addition, child sensory sensitivity fully mediated the relationship between anxiety and selective eating in children suggesting that it is greater sensitivity to sensory information which explains why more anxious children are more likely to be selective eaters. Further research is necessary to better understand these relationships and indicate whether gradual exposure interventions with children who are sensory sensitive may help to prevent or reduce selective eating.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-846
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Appetite. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Farrow, CV & Coulthard, H, 'Relationships between sensory sensitivity, anxiety and selective eating in children' Appetite, vol 58, no. 3 (2012) DOI


  • selective eating
  • anxiety
  • child
  • sensory sensitivity
  • picky eating
  • food fussiness


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