Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Henry, Beverly W.

Second Advisor

Ghosh-Roy, Priyanka

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions


Selective or picky eating in adults is an eating behavior that is characterized by the restriction of a significant number or variety of foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. It is also associated with poor appetite and fear of eating, and if severe enough may be classified as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). Research is limited regarding the differences in food preferences and reasons for food rejection by adult selective eaters, with and without other restrictive eating behaviors. Previous research suggests there may be differences in the types of food restricted due to selectivity, versus poor appetite and fear of eating. The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between food preferences and reasons for food dislike and restrictive eating behaviors in adult picky eaters.

A food preference questionnaire was modified to reflect reasons for food dislike, as well as food preferences, and was pilot-tested with a sample of 12 adult picky eaters. Reliability testing indicated excellent reliability for food preferences and moderate to good reliability for reasons for dislike. A sample of 188 participants who identified as picky eaters took an online survey with the modified questionnaire (FDQ) and the Nine Item Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Screen (NIAS). Multi-level regression model analysis was used to assess the relationship between food preferences, reasons for food dislike, type of foods disliked and restrictive eating behaviors.

Approximately eighty percent of survey participants reported other restrictive eating behaviors in addition to food selectivity. Associations between food preferences and eating behavior were only found to be significant with scores on the picky eating subscale of the NIAS (p = <.0001), with vegetables and fruits most likely to have never been tasted or disliked. Significant associations were found with all three subscales of the NIAS for reasons for food dislike (p = <.0001), with texture and smell most strongly associated with picky eating scores, smell and taste for appetite scores and bad experiences and texture for fear scores. Differences between types of restrictive eating behavior in food preferences and reason for food dislike suggest not all selective eaters restrict foods in a similar way. Findings from the study have possible implications related to strategies for dietary improvement for adult selective eaters.


154 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type


Included in

Nutrition Commons