Physical Status, Feeding Behavior and Autism

physical status feeding autism - www.YourTherapySource.comRecent research was published to investigate the physical status and feeding behavior among 23 children with autism, ages 5-16 years old (higher enrollment of males).  A 3 day food record was collected using a parent questionnaire, the Brief Assessment of Mealtime Behavior Inventory, the Food Preference Inventory and nutrient intake.  Physical status was evaluated using height, weight and body mass index.

The results indicated the following:

1.  Twelve children were obese and another 5 were overweight, therefore 75% of the children had difficulty maintaining normal weight.

2.  Mealtime behavior revealed that 69.6 % of the children never/rarely cried/screamed during mealtimes, turned their face or body away from food (52 %), or expelled food (61 %) that he/she has eaten.

3.  Food Preference Inventory showed food refusal of 59.1 ± 20.6 % for combined food groups in autistic children. Specifically, higher preference was found for starches (55.8 %) and least for protein (32.6 %).

4.  A 3 day food record revealed that their diets were repetitive with limited variety and evidence of nutrient inadequacy.

The researchers concluded that mealtime behavior occasionally showed rigidity in mealtime routines, unwillingness to try new foods and not being able to be seated until the meal was finished. Other issues included high rates of food rejection (especially protein) and limited variety resulting into nutrient inadequacy.

Reference:  Attlee A, Kassem H, Hashim M, Obaid RS. Physical Status and Feeding Behavior of Children with Autism. Indian J Pediatr. 2015 Feb 10. [Epub ahead of print]