Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder and autistic traits in children with anorexia nervosa and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder

Takeshi Inoue, Ryoko Otani, Toshiyuki Iguchi, Ryuta Ishii, Soh Uchida, Ayumi Okada, Shinji Kitayama, Kenshi Koyanagi, Yuki Suzuki, Yuichi Suzuki, Yoshino Sumi, Shizuo Takamiya, Yasuko Tsurumaru, Shinichiro Nagamitsu, Yoshimitsu Fukai, Chikako Fujii, Michiko Matsuoka, Junpei Iwanami, Akio Wakabayashi, Ryoichi Sakuta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and feeding and eating disorders (FEDs) such as anorexia nervosa (AN) are strongly linked as evidenced by frequent comorbidity and overlapping traits. However, eating and social behaviors are shaped by culture, so it is critical to examine these associations in different populations. Moreover, FEDs are heterogeneous, and there has been no examination of autistic traits in avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). Methods: Therefore, we investigated the prevalence of ASD and autistic traits among Japanese children with AN (n = 92) or ARFID (n = 32) from a prospective multicenter cohort study using the Autism Spectrum Quotient Children’s version (AQC) and Children’s Eating Attitudes Test (ChEAT26). Results: ASD prevalence was high in both AN and ARFID (16.3 and 12.5%, respectively). The AN group exhibited significantly higher scores on all AQC subscales than an age-matched healthy control (HC) group, but there were no significant correlations between AQC scores and ChEAT26 scores. In the AFRID group, AQC scores did not differ from HCs, but significant correlations were found between total AQC and ChEAT26 scores and between several AQC and ChEAT26 subscales. Conclusions: Both the AN and ARFID groups had high prevalence rates of ASD. The AN group showed a significantly higher degree of autistic traits than the HC group; however, no difference was found between the ARFID and HC groups. Clinicians need to be aware of these rates when working with children with ED.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalBioPsychoSocial Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Anorexia
  • Autism
  • Comorbidity
  • Feed and eating disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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