Dietary patterns and body mass index in children with autism and typically developing children

Sunday, January 1, 2012
Dietary patterns and body mass index in children with autism and typically developing children
Whitney E Evans, PHD
Tufts University Friedman school of Nutrition Science and Policy
Aviva Must, PHD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Sarah Anderson, PHD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Renee Scampini, MS, RD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Melissa Maslin, MEd
University of Massachusetts Medical School

To determine whether dietary patterns (juice and sweetened non-dairy beverages, fruits, vegetables, fruits and vegetables, snack foods, and kid's meals) and associations between dietary patterns and body mass index (BMI) differed between 53 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and 58 typically developing children, ages 3–11, multivariate regression models including interaction terms were estimated. Children with ASD were found to consume significantly more daily servings of sweetened beverages (2.6 versus 1.7, p = 0.03) and snack foods (4.0 versus 3.0, p = 0.01) and significantly fewer daily servings of fruits and vegetables (3.1 versus 4.4, p = 0.006) than typically developing children. There was no evidence of statistical interaction between any of the dietary patterns and BMI z-score with autism status. Among all children, fruits and vegetables (p = 0.004) and fruits alone (p = 0.005) were positively associated with BMI z-score in our multivariate models. Children with ASD consume more energy-dense foods than typically developing children; however, in our sample, only fruits and vegetables were positively associated with BMI z-score.