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Characteristics of Food Refusal in Children with Autism

food refusal autism from www.YourTherapySource.comThe Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published research on whether parent report of food refusal based on the characteristics of food was greater in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) than in typically developing children. A modified food frequency questionnaire was used for parent-reported food refusal related to characteristics of food (eg, texture/consistency, temperature, brand, color, shape, taste/smell, foods mixed together, or foods touching other foods) was compared between 53 children with ASD and 58 typically developing children aged 3 to 11 years.

The results indicated the following:

1.  children with ASD were significantly more likely to refuse foods based on texture/consistency (77.4% vs 36.2%), taste/smell (49.1% vs 5.2%), mixtures (45.3% vs 25.9%), brand (15.1% vs 1.7%), and shape (11.3% vs 1.7%).

2.  no differences between groups were found for food refusal based on temperature, foods touching other foods, or color.

3.  regardless of ASD status, the percentage of foods refused of those offered was associated with parent reports of food refusal based on all characteristics examined, except temperature.

4.  in both groups, food refusal based on color was inversely associated with vegetable consumption in both groups.

The researchers recommend routine screening for food refusal among children with ASD in order to prevent dietary inadequacies that may be associated with selective eating habits.

Reference:  Hubbard, Kristie L. et al. A Comparison of Food Refusal Related to Characteristics of Food in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , Volume 114 , Issue 12 , 1981 – 1987.