Physical Status and Feeding Behavior of Children with Autism

Amita Attlee, Hanin Kassem, Mona Hashim, Reyad Shaker Obaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the physical status and feeding behavior among children with autism. Methods: Twenty three autistic children aged 5–16 y enrolled in Sharjah Autism Center were studied. A questionnaire was administered to the parents of these children. Demographic information; gastrointestinal symptoms; mealtime behavior through Brief Assessment of Mealtime Behavior Inventory, Food Preference Inventory; and nutrient intake through a 3 day food record were collected. Physical status was determined in terms of height, weight and body mass index. Results: Male–female ratio of autism in the sample was 3.6:1. Twelve children were obese and another 5 were overweight. 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. 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 %). A 3 day food record revealed that their diets were repetitive with limited variety and evidence of nutrient inadequacy. Conclusions: Comparatively higher enrolment of males with autism was found and three-fourth of the total children had difficulty in maintaining normal weight. Mealtime behavior concerns were displayed occasionally including rigidity in mealtime routines, unwillingness to try new foods and not being able to be seated until the meal was finished. High rates of food rejection, notably protein and limited variety resulting into nutrient inadequacy were evident.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-687
Number of pages6
JournalIndian Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 25 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Feeding behavior
  • Nutrient inadequacy
  • Physical status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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