Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder: Psychopathological similarities and differences in comparison to anorexia nervosa and the general population

Laura Cañas, Carol Palma, Ana M. Molano, Lola Domene, Marta Carulla-Roig, Raquel Cecilia-Costa, Montserrat Dolz, Eduardo Serrano-Troncoso

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) categorises patients with selective and/or restrictive eating patterns in the absence of distorted cognition concerning weight, food, and body image. Objective: To examine the sociodemographic and clinical profile of patients with ARFID in comparison to those with anorexia nervosa (AN) and to a non-clinical group (NCG). Method: A descriptive, observational, comparative study made up of three groups (ARFID, AN and NCG). Ninety-nine children and adolescents were analyzed by means of a semi-structured diagnostic interview and questionnaires on depression, anxiety, clinical fears and general psychopathology. Results: The ARFID group was significantly younger (10.8 vs. 14.1 years of age), with a greater proportion of males (60.6% vs. 6.1%), an earlier onset of illness (6.2 vs. 13.4 years of age), and a longer period of evolution of the illness (61.2 vs. 8.4 months) compared to the AN group. Clinically, patients with ARFID showed greater medical (42.4% vs. 12.1%) and psychiatric (81.8% vs. 33.3%) comorbidity—assessed with a semi-structured diagnostic interview—greater clinical fear (p < 0.005), more attention problems (p < 0.005) and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression (p < 0.005)—measured with self-report questionnaires. Conclusions: ARFID is a serious disorder with a significant impact on the physical and mental health of the pediatric population. Likewise, some of these physical and mental conditions may be a risk factor in developing ARFID. Attention problems and clinical fears in ARFID, and the greater presence of internalised symptoms in AN, were the main differences found in the psychopathological profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-256
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • anorexia nervosa
  • anxiety
  • ARFID
  • comorbidity
  • depression
  • psychopathology

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