Eating Disorders More Likely In Children Showing Autistic Traits

Eating disorders can be understood as a group of mental illnesses that have severe effects on the physical health of the patient because of unhealthy eating habits.

There are various types of eating disorders, such as binge eating, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, pica, rumination syndrome, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), as well as other specified feeding or eating disorders.

Eating disorders can affect anyone, irrespective of their age and gender. However, there are various factors that can affect a person’s chances of developing an eating disorder. These include biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.

However, research has proved that a certain group of people more likely to develop an eating disorder.

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Eating Disorders More Likely In Children Showing Autistic Traits


Researchers at University College London (UCL) have found that the children who presented with autistic traits were more likely to develop disordered eating behaviors as adolescents, compared to their peers.

7-year-olds who showed autistic traits have a nearly 27% higher chance of developing an eating disorder by the time they turn 14.

Dr. Francesca Solmi said –

 “We have found that young children with autistic traits at age seven are more likely than their peers to end up developing eating disorder symptoms in adolescence.”

Dr. Solmi headed the research and is a member of UCL’s psychiatry department.

Eating Disorders More Likely In Children Showing Autistic Traits

Autism often results in difficulties with social communication. According to the researchers, these difficulties lead to a higher rate of depression and anxiety.

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Moreover, they believe that eating disorders could be a consequence of unhealthy coping methods.

“The next step is to learn more about why those with autistic traits have a higher risk of developing an eating disorder so we can then design interventions to prevent eating disorders,” said Dr. William Mandy. Dr. Mandy is a co-author of the study.

The study was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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