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Exploring self-reported eating disorder symptoms in autistic men

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalAutism in Adulthood
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Aug 2019

King's Authors


Background: Whilst research suggests a relationship between restrictive eating disorders and autism, there is a lack of research in this area from the perspective of autistic men. Our aim was to explore whether eating disorder symptoms are heightened in autistic men compared to non-autistic men. Methods: We recruited 103 autistic and non-autistic participants through an online study. We assessed eating disorder symptoms, autistic features, anxiety, depression and body mass index (BMI) using self-report measures. Results: Autistic men (n=54) exhibited significantly higher levels of eating disorder symptoms in the areas of eating (p <0.001), shape (p= 0.005) and weight (p= 0.001) concerns, and the global score (p= 0.046) compared to non-autistic men (n=49). However, autistic men scored significantly lower in the area of dietary restraint (p= 0.032). Global eating disorder scores did not correlate with autistic traits, but did correlate with anxiety (p<.001) and BMI (p<.001) in the autistic group. Conclusions: This exploratory study suggests that heightened eating disorder symptoms in autistic men may be related to heightened levels of anxiety and higher BMIs, rather than autistic traits. It also highlights that autistic men may experience symptoms not relating to dietary restraint. Future research should consider further exploring the relationship between anxiety, BMI and disordered eating in autism.

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