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Do autism spectrum disorder and anorexia nervosa have some eating disturbances in common?

Journal article
Authors Louise Karjalainen
Maria Råstam
Gunilla Paulson-Karlsson
Elisabet Wentz
Published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 69-78
ISSN 10188827
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 69-78
Language en
Keywords Anorexia nervosa, AQ, Autism spectrum disorder, Eating behaviours, Eating disorders, SWEAA
Subject categories Child and adolescent psychiatry, Psychiatry


© 2018 The Author(s) A possible overlap between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and anorexia nervosa (AN), in terms of both behavioural and cognitive features, has led to new areas of research. The aim of the present study was to examine the occurrence of eating behaviours frequently seen in ASD among adolescents and young adults with AN. The participants were females within the age range 15–25 years: 36 with current AN (32 were followed up after 1 year), 19 with ASD, and 30 healthy females. The participants completed the SWedish Eating Assessment for Autism spectrum disorders (SWEAA) and the Autism Spectrum Quotient tool (AQ). AN groups had significantly higher SWEAA scores than the healthy comparison group, also when patients had gained weight. Typical autistic eating behaviours, such as selective eating, were more common in the AN groups than in the ASD group. This is the first time that SWEAA has been implemented in an AN population. Eating behaviours frequently seen in ASD seem to be frequent in AN and some remain also after weight gain.

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