Relationships Between ASD/ADHD Symptoms and Abnormal Eating Behaviors in Children
Objectives: The present study investigated whether ASD and ADHD symptoms are related to abnormal eating behaviors in elementary and junior high school students in Japan.
Methods: Participants were 4584 children from 4th to 9th grade students enrolled in all elementary and junior high schools of a single city. 2314 were boys and 2270 were girls. The children completed an eating behavior inventory that measured propensity of anorexia and bulimia (Ito et al., submitted). Their parents or caregivers completed two questionnaires: the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ; Ehlers, Gillberg, & Wing, 1999) for ASD symptoms and the ADHD Rating Scale (ADHD-RS; Dupaul, Power, Anastopoulos, & Reid, 1998) for inattention/hyperactivity. To investigate the effect of ASD and ADHD symptoms on the propensity of anorexia and bulimia, polynominal regression analysis was conducted.
Results: The analysis found that the linear effect of ASSQ (β=.062, p=.011) and ADHD-RS (β=.086, p<.001) were significant regarding propensity of anorexia. In terms of propensity of bulimia, the liner and nonlinear (quadratic) effect of ASSQ (liner; β=.062, p=.017, nonlinear; β=-.057, p=.018) and the liner effect of ADHD-RS (β=.140, p<.001) were significant. (Fig.1) The other was not significant.
Conclusions: First, both propensity of anorexia and bulimia are affected by ASD and ADHD symptoms. This relationship is supported by previous research, which refers to similar results in clinical cases. Second, propensity of bulimia is affected more by ADHD symptoms than by ASD symptoms. It is thought that aspects of ASD symptoms associated with poor social skills and those of ADHD symptoms associated with impulsivity may be associated with abnormal eating behaviors. These findings suggest that investigation of ASD and ADHD symptoms may lead to more appropriate treatment for people exhibiting abnormal eating behavior.