(CNN NEWSOURCE) – If you’ve ever spent time with young children, you know their food choices can sometimes be a bit… interesting. But when it comes to their well-being, when is it just a phase and when is it more?
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) can sometimes mask itself as a child being a picky eater.
But when children start to experience significant weight loss or their physical growth is affected, medical professionals warn it can be much more.
“It’s very unique in that it seems to come up in younger childhood and really doesn’t have anything to do with the child wanting to lose weight. It’s just that they have a hyper-sensitivity often to textures and tastes and smells of food that causes them to not be interested in food. As a result, they are restricting their food intake,” said Page Love, a registered dietitian.
Love treats kids with ARFID. She said almost every patient she sees eats the same limited diet.
“Macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, chicken nuggets — and usually chicken nuggets from a particular place — french fries, cheese quesadillas or a grilled cheese sandwich,” Love said.
So children may experience vertical growth but can be severely underweight and not producing muscle.
Slowed reactions, anxiety disorders and fear of social situations a lot of times go hand-in-hand with an ARFID diagnosis.
“If kids just aren’t having a normal progression of being open to trying other foods and it starts to impact their growth, those to me are the big red flags that parents should be aware of and be talking to their pediatricians about,” Love said.