Behavior Changes Associated with Food Intake and Eating Disorders in Children with Autism in Oman

Thursday, May 17, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
2:00 PM
Y. M. Al-Farsi1, M. I. Waly1, M. Al-Sharbati1, M. M. Al-Khaduri1, O. A. Al-Farsi1, M. Al-Shafaee1 and R. Deth2, (1)Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman, (2)Northeastern University, Boston, MA, United States

Eating disorders, food preference and amount of food eaten among autistic children were the focus of recent research which was mostly conducted in Western countries. These countries are different from Oman in terms of culture, food habits and foods availability.


The purpose of this study was to: (1) address validity of the Western published reports as compared to Oman, (2) Assess behavioral issues that often faced parents of  Omani autistic children with regard foods likes and dislikes, (3) estimate the prevalence of eating disorders among Omani autistic children, (4) evaluate the amount of food eaten by study subjects.


A retrospective case-control study included 40 Omani autistic children and 40 controls matched for age and gender.


Functional assessment indicated that food refusal behaviors were maintained by escape and avoidance of non-preferred foods. The increase in the amount and range of food eaten was reported during activities at home and school setting. Eating disorders were not reported among the enrolled study subjects. Anthropometric assessment indicated prevalence of underweight among the study subjects. The study results were generally in accordance with the recently published Western reports.


Intensive behavior intervention is needed for Omani autistic children in order to increase duration of in-seat behavior at meal times across the day for this high risk group of children.


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