Comparative Assessment of Eating Behavior among Children with Autism to Typically Developing Children in Oman

Najma  M. Al-Kindi1*, Yahya M. Al-Farsi1, Mostafa I. Waly2, Mohammed S. Al-Shafaee1, Charles Saki Bakheit3, Marwan M. Al-Sharbati4, Samir Al-Adawi4

1Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, 2Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, 3Department of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Science, 4Department of Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman

*Corresponding Author: Najma Al-Kindi, MSc. Email Address for correspondence: [email protected]


Background: Previous studies have indicated that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to be marked with problematic and challenging feeding behaviors and thus, nutritional deficiencies is common in such pediatric population. Objectives: This study compares anthropomorphic data and clinical characteristics of children with ASD and typically developing (TD)  children, and parental endorsement of their children’s mealtime behavior. Subjects and Methods: Anthropomorphic data and clinical characteristic were concurrently sought from the parents. Brief Autism Mealtime Inventory (BAMBI) was used to evaluate the mealtime behavior of children. Parents of 163 ASD and 212 TD children, aged 4 to 13 years, participated in the study. Results: No significant differences were observed in anthropometric measurements between ASD and TD. group  We also found that autistic children exhibited significantly more disruptive eating behavior than typically developing children (P<0.001). The findings supported the previous studies that children with ASD particularly refuse foods and are more likely to avoid foods than children without autism. The study confirmed that Omani children with ASD were more selective about what to eat, and exhibited a more limited food repertoire compared to TD children. Overall their parents/caregivers also showed much more concern about their behavior than those of TD children. Conclusion: The study provided information that children with ASD have more problematic behavior then TD children. Although, problematic behavior in ASD children is not considered a core feature of autism; however, it can be associated as part of phenotypic features of ASD.

Keywords: Eating behavior, BAMBI, ASD children, TD children, Oman

Citation: Al-Kindi NM, Al-Farsi YM, Waly MI, Al-Shafaee MS, Bakheit CS, Al-Sharbati MM, Al-Adawi S. Comparative assessment of eating behavior among children with autism to typically developing children in Oman. Canad J Clin Nutr 2016; 4 (2): 51-64.