Screening for pickiness – a validation study

Picky eating is prevalent in childhood and is associated with negative health outcomes. Therefore early detection of pickiness is pertinent. Because no psychometric measure of picky/fussy eating has been validated, we aimed to examine the screening efficiency of the 6-item ‘Food Fussiness’ (FF) scale from the Children’s Eating Behavior Questionnaire using structured psychiatric interviews (the Preschool Age Psychiatric Interview), providing meaningful cut-off values based on a large, representative sample of Norwegian 6 year olds (n = 752). Screening efficiency was evaluated using receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, revealing excellent discrimination. The cut-point maximizing the sum of sensitivity and specificity for the scale was found at a score of 3.33 for severe cases and 3.00 when both moderate and severe pickiness were included. The results suggest that the FF scale may provide a tool for identification of clinically significant picky eating, although further assessment may be needed to separate moderate from severe cases.​​