Increased emotional eating behaviors in children with autism: Sex differences and links with dietary variety.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Although "picky" eating is well documented in autism spectrum disorder, emotional eating has rarely been investigated. This study examined emotional over- and under-eating based on parent ratings of these behaviors in 4- to 17-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder (n = 190) as compared to same-age typically developing children (n = 119). Children with autism spectrum disorder were rated as exhibiting both more emotional over-eating and more emotional under-eating behaviors than their typically developing peers. Furthermore, while sex differences in these emotional eating behaviors were not observed in the typically developing children, girls with autism spectrum disorder were rated as experiencing more emotional over-eating behaviors than boys with autism spectrum disorder. Finally, among all children with autism spectrum disorder, emotional over-eating was linked with increased consumption of sweet foods and decreased consumption of vegetables. These findings have implications for better understanding eating habits in children with autism spectrum disorder and suggest that emotional eating behaviors might have both immediate and downstream health impacts.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wallace, GL; Richard, E; Wolff, A; Nadeau, M; Zucker, N

Published Date

  • April 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 603 - 612

PubMed ID

  • 32744061

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1461-7005

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1362361320942087


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England