Factors affecting the eating behaviour of individuals with and without autism spectrum conditions

Pomoni, Maria (2016). Factors affecting the eating behaviour of individuals with and without autism spectrum conditions. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Previous research has shown that children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) frequently present with aberrant eating behaviour. Although typically developing children may also face eating difficulties, these difficulties seem to be more prevalent and more severe in children with ASC. The present thesis aimed to explore the prevalence of the following problematic behaviour: food neophobia, eating selectivity, rigid/perseverant eating behaviour and selectivity in terms of texture, in a sample of 254 children (103 children with ASC and 151 control children). This thesis also explored whether the existence of early feeding problems may link with a more problematic current eating behaviour, or higher sensory sensitivity. Associations between a more problematic social-communication and behavioural profile and problems in eating and sensory sensitivity were also investigated.
Despite the health benefits, vegetables are commonly identified as one of the least preferred food categories. Therefore, the present thesis aimed to identify, in two observational studies, how factors such as food neophobia, sensory sensitivity and previous vegetable eating experiences can affect the willingness to try real food vegetable options, in a sample of 53 typically developing pre-schoolers and 77 adults with and without autistic traits. Overall, children with ASC presented a significantly more problematic profile in terms of eating, sensory, social-communication and behavioural performance than the control group. However, findings highlighted that generally there are more similarities than differences in the observed relationships between the factors affecting the eating behaviour of children with and without ASC.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/7204


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