Effect of Virgin Coconut Oil on Feeding Problems of the Autistic Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Walaa MR El-Meidany1*, Dalia I Tayel1, Mostafa I Waly2, Peter AM Ntenda3

1Nutrition Department, High Institute of Public Health, Alexandria University, Egypt. 2 Food Science and Nutrition Department, CAMS, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. 3Malaria Alert Center, Kamuzu university of Health sciences, Malawi

*Correspondence Email Address: [email protected] & [email protected]

Background: Different forms of feeding problems are quite common among autism spectrum disorder (ASD) children including food aversion, food selectivity, and complete food refusal. Those feeding issues can affect negatively the nutrition status of those children, thus a child’s feeding behavior is highly linked to both the dietary intake and growth. Virgin coconut oil carry many health benefits and giving it to those ASD children will provide a rich source of medium chain fatty acids thus could affect positively their feeding behavior. Aim of the study: To investigate the effect of dietary supplementation with virgin coconut oil (VCO) on the feeding behavior disorders of children with autism spectrum disorder. Methods: Randomized controlled trial consisting of two groups, the intervention group consists of 25 autistic children and the control group consists of 25 ASD children of same age group from both sexes. Results: VCO supplementation was effective in decreasing the severity of various important challenging behaviors associated with feeding practices by 34.36% among ASD cases who took the VCO, while no change occurred among those who didn’t receive the VCO (control group) and this was assessed by the Screening Tool of Feeding Problems (STEP) questionnaire. Conclusion: Dietary supplementation with VCO can cause a significant improvement in the feeding problems of the autistic children. Recommendation: Encourage the intake of virgin coconut oil as a dietary supplement for autistic children to help them overcome different forms of feeding behavior disorders.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Children, Feeding Problems, Virgin Coconut Oil

Citation: El-Meidany WMR, Tayel DI, Waly MI, Ntenda PAM. Effect of Virgin Coconut Oil on Feeding Problems of the Autistic Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Canadian Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2022; 10 (1): 13-23.

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.14206/canad.j.clin.nutr.2022.01.03