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J Eat Disord. 2014 Aug 2;2(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s40337-014-0021-3. eCollection 2014.

Prevalence and characteristics of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in a cohort of young patients in day treatment for eating disorders.

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Penn State College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, 17033 Hershey, PA USA.
Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, 905 West Governor Road, Suite 250, 17033 Hershey, PA USA.
Departments of Surgery and Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, 17033 Hershey, PA USA.



Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a "new" diagnosis in the recently published DSM-5, but there is very little literature on patients with ARFID. Our objectives were to determine the prevalence of ARFID in children and adolescents undergoing day treatment for an eating disorder, and to compare ARFID patients to other eating disorder patients in the same cohort.


A retrospective chart review of 7-17 year olds admitted to a day program for younger patients with eating disorders between 2008 and 2012 was performed. Patients with ARFID were compared to those with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other specified feeding or eating disorder/unspecified feeding or eating disorder with respect to demographics, anthropometrics, clinical symptoms, and psychometric testing, using Chi-square, ANOVA, and post-hoc analysis.


39/173 (22.5%) patients met ARFID criteria. The ARFID group was younger than the non-ARFID group and had a greater proportion of males. Similar degrees of weight loss and malnutrition were found between groups. Patients with ARFID reported greater fears of vomiting and/or choking and food texture issues than those with other eating disorders, as well as greater dependency on nutritional supplements at intake. Children's Eating Attitudes Test scores were lower for children with than without ARFID. A higher comorbidity of anxiety disorders, pervasive developmental disorder, and learning disorders, and a lower comorbidity of depression, were found in those with ARFID.


This study demonstrates that there are significant demographic and clinical characteristics that differentiate children with ARFID from those with other eating disorders in a day treatment program, and helps substantiate the recognition of ARFID as a distinct eating disorder diagnosis in the DSM-5.


Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder; Children and adolescents; DSM-5; Day treatment

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