Youth with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder: Examining differences by age, weight status, and symptom duration

Kristina Duncombe Lowe, Timothy L. Barnes, Carolyn Martell, Helene Keery, Sarah Eckhardt, Carol B. Peterson, Julie Lesser, Daniel Le Grange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The primary purpose of this study was to examine differences among youth with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) by age, weight status, and symptom duration. A secondary goal was to report the frequencies of ARFID using DSM-5 clinical presentations (i.e., fear of aversive consequences, lack of interest in food, sensory sensitivities). Participants (N = 102), ages 8-18 years, were recruited through an eating disorder service within a pediatric hospital. They were evaluated using semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. Patients were assigned to groups according to age, weight status, and symptom duration. Frequencies of clinical presentations, including combinations of DSM-5 categories, were also examined. Our findings suggest that adolescents presented with higher rates of Depression (p = 0.04). Youth with chronic ARFID symptoms presented with significantly lower weight (p = 0.03), and those with acute symptoms rated significantly higher suicidal ideation and/or self- harm (p = 0.02). Half of patients met criteria for more than one ARFID symptom presentation. This study provides preliminary evidence that youth with ARFID differ in clinical presentation depending on age, weight status, and symptom duration, and highlights safety concerns for those with acute symptoms of ARFID. High rates of overlapping symptom presentations might suggest a dimensional approach in the conceptualization of ARFID.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1955
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, K.D.L., S.E., H.K., D.L.G., C.B.P., J.L.; methodology, T.L.B., K.D.L.,C.M., S.E., D.L.G.; validation, T.L.B., K.D.L., S.E., C.M., H.K.; formal analysis, T.L.B.; investigation, K.D.L., S.E., C.M., H.K., K.D.L.; resources, Children’s Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA; data curation, T.L.B., C.M.; writing—original draft preparation, K.D.L.; writing—review and editing, All; visualization, K.D.L., T.L.B.; supervision, D.L.G., C.B.P.; project administration, D.L.G., S.E., H.K., K.D.L., C.M.; funding acquisition, we acknowledge the generous financial support of the Goven Family Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors.


  • Age
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
  • Fear of aversive consequences
  • Lack of interest
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Symptom duration
  • Weight status


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