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Girls with Asperger's more likely to have eating disorders?

Posted Oct 03 2008 11:31am
A review of Efrosini Kalyva (2008). Comparison of Eating Attitudes between Adolescent Girls with and without Asperger Syndrome: Daughters’ and Mothers’ Reports Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders DOI: 10.1007/s10803-008-0648-5

The marked gender difference in the rate of autism spectrum diagnoses has resulted in a major gender disparity in research. That is, the overwhelming majority of studies on autism are conducted with boys, and studies examining mostly girls are very rare. The study I'm reviewing today was conducted at the University of Sheffield in Greece. The author wanted to examine the rates of eating problems reported by girls with Asperger’s syndrome when compared to typically developing girls. The study included 56 girls with AS and 56 typically developing girls (Age 12 to 18). The AS was diagnosed by a multidisciplinary team via ADI and ADOS using USA cutoff points. The comparison sample was selected from the local school system. The AS and the typically developing girls were match for Body Mass Index (BMI). The girls and their mothers completed the Eating Attitude Test. This test assesses a wide range of eating behaviors (“I have gone on eating binges”) and attitudes (“I’m terrified about being overweight”) associated with several eating disorders.

The results indicated that, when compared to typically developing girls, girls with AS were more likely to endorse more symptoms associated with bulimia and food preoccupation. However, no difference between the groups were noted on dieting behaviors. The author reached the same conclusion when examining mother’s reports of their daughters eating habits and attitudes.

Please note that these results suggest increased symptoms of eating disorders among the AS girls, but this may not necessarily translate to actual diagnoses of eating disorders. That is, the study did not include a comprehensive evaluation for actual eating disorders. Thus, the differences in rates of eating disorder among the two groups of girls is unknown.
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