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Food Selectivity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Typically Developing Children

      Objectives

      To define food selectivity and compare indices of food selectivity among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and typically developing children, and to assess the impact of food selectivity on nutrient adequacy.

      Study design

      Food selectivity was operationalized to include food refusal, limited food repertoire, and high-frequency single food intake using a modified food frequency questionnaire and a 3-day food record. Food selectivity was compared between 53 children with ASDs and 58 typically developing children age 3-11 years. Nutrient adequacy was assessed relative to the dietary reference intakes.

      Results

      The children with ASDs exhibited more food refusal than typically developing children (41.7% of foods offered vs 18.9% of foods offered; P <.0001). They also had a more limited food repertoire (19.0 foods vs 22.5 foods; P <.001). Only 4 children with ASDs and 1 typically developing child demonstrated high-frequency single food intake. Children with a more limited food repertoire had inadequate intake of a greater number of nutrients.

      Conclusions

      Our findings suggest that food selectivity is more common in children with ASDs than in typically developing children, and that a limited food repertoire may be associated with nutrient inadequacies.
      AI (Adequate intake), ASDs (Autism spectrum disorders), BMI (Body mass index), DAS (Differential Abilities Scale), EAR (Estimated average requirement), FFQ (Food frequency questionnaire), HFSFI (High-frequency single food intake), NDSR (Nutrition Data System for Research), VABS (Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale), YAQ (Youth/Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaire)
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