Eating disorders linked with autism in school children

Feb 10, 2011

Although traditionally considered two quite separate conditions, many similarities in characteristics have previously been found in those with a clinical diagnosis of an eating disorder and a clinical diagnosis of autism.

For example, female adults with a diagnosis of have been found to score highly on a questionnaire that measures characteristics associated with (ASD).

Dr. Mark Brosnan from the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology and his team set out to identify if the relationship between eating disorders and ASD existed in a younger, non-clinical population.

The team recruited 132 school children (61 boys, 71 girls) to take part in the study, aged 11 to 14 years, an important age for the onset of eating-related issues.
Dieting behaviors and weight concerns are tentatively considered to be variable risk factors for the development of eating disorders.

The school children completed questionnaire-based assessments of eating disorders and ASD, which found a significant relationship between the two, particularly between , attention to detail and communication skills.

Dr. Brosnan said: “The application of one research area to another may contribute to a better understanding of both clinical conditions.

“One of the biggest differences between the disorders is the male domination of ASD diagnoses and the female domination of eating disorder diagnoses and these comparisons may help us to understand why this is the case.

“For example, we found that ‘attention to detail’ was consistently the most significant predictor of eating disorder tendencies, and to a greater degree than gender.

“Poorer social communication skills were also associated with higher eating disorder tendencies in our study. We hope that a better understanding of the relationship between these social cognitive processes and eating disorders may eventually be used clinically to predict prognosis or course of illness in clinical patients.”

Explore further: Intervention helps decrease 'mean girl' behaviors, researchers find

More information: This research is due to be published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Exercise could help prevent, treat eating disorders: study

Jan 13, 2011

When treating an eating disorder, exercise is rarely considered therapeutic; it’s more likely to be viewed as dangerous for patients already obsessed with their weight. But a new University of Florida study shows that ...

Professor identifies new eating disorder

Sep 04, 2007

A University of Iowa professor is making a case for a new eating disorder she calls purging disorder. The disorder is similar to bulimia nervosa in that both syndromes involve eating, then trying to compensate for the calories. ...

Recommended for you

Lift weights, improve your memory

5 hours ago

Here's another reason why it's a good idea to hit the gym: it can improve memory. A new Georgia Institute of Technology study shows that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic ...

Fat chats: The good, the bad and the ugly comments

7 hours ago

Cyberbullying and hurtful 'fat jokes' are disturbingly prevalent in the social media environment, especially on Twitter, says Wen-ying Sylvia Chou of the National Institutes of Health in the US. Chou is lead ...

Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent some forms of depression

10 hours ago

Patients with increased inflammation, including those receiving cytokines for medical treatment, have a greatly increased risk of depression. For example, a 6-month treatment course of interferon-alpha therapy ...

User comments : 0