Though related to contingencies of survival, eating is not an easily self-maintained behavior. A number of feeding and eat- ing problems may arise early in a child life and are defined by his/her inability or refusal to eat or drink a sufficient quantity or variety of food to maintain proper nutrition. They appear as alterations in the form (frequency, duration, speed, time of the day) and in the content (type of food) of feeding/eating behavioral chains. Dysfunctional mealtime behaviors include food refusal, tantrums, food selectivity, rapid or slow eating, vomiting, coughing, or keeping mouth voluntary closed. Problematic feeding is ascribed to many causes, and it mainly arises from the interaction of biological and environmental factors. In this paper we will discuss a wide range of strategies elaborated within a behavior analytic framework to show how feed- ing and eating in children can be effectively modified. We will briefly focus on how behavior analysts conceptualize problem- atic feeding, then examine some examples of intervention strategies for different feeding problems, and finally sketch how a behavioral based intervention on a large scale may increase fruit and vegetables consumption in children between 2 and 11 years old and ultimately help in preventing child’s obesity.
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