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Evaluation of a Nutrition Education and Culinary Program for Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published:August 12, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2021.06.003
      Older adolescents (aged 15–19 years) diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be at a high risk of developing poor dietary habits as they begin to transition out of a structured high school environment.
      • Goldschmidt J
      • Song J
      Development of cooking skills as nutrition intervention for adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.
      ,
      • Duncan A
      • Ruble LA
      • Meinzen-Derr J
      • Thomas C
      • Stark LJ
      Preliminary efficacy of a daily living skills intervention for adolescents with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder.
      Youth with ASD are at a greater risk of obesity than neurotypical youth, which may be partly the result of poor dietary behaviors, namely food selectivity.
      • Evans EW
      • Must A
      • Anderson SE
      • et al.
      Dietary patterns and body mass index in children with autism and typically developing children.
      Studies have estimated that 46% to 89% of youth with ASD have some form of food selectivity, which is linked with an increased risk of obesity as adolescents enter adulthood.
      • Ledford JR
      • Gast DL
      Feeding problems in children with autism spectrum disorders: a review.
      Such behaviors tend to result in nutritional deficiencies and excessive consumption of high-energy dense foods.
      • Evans EW
      • Must A
      • Anderson SE
      • et al.
      Dietary patterns and body mass index in children with autism and typically developing children.
      Therefore, it is critical to improve dietary behaviors in adolescents with ASD while enhancing their ability to live independently by providing the skills and knowledge to purchase, prepare, and consume healthy food items.
      • Broder-Fingert S
      • Brazauskas K
      • Lindren K
      • Iannuzzi D
      • Van Cleave J
      Prevalence of overweight and obesity in a large clinical sample of children with autism.
      Unfortunately, there are limited programs that have addressed nutrition habits in older adolescents with ASD, and even fewer designed to teach cooking skills and healthy nutrition choices in this population.
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