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Special Issue "Autism and Nutrition Proposal"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. William G. Sharp

Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Atlanta, United States
Website | E-Mail
Interests: pediatric feeding disorders

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Increased evidence suggests children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at increased risk for feeding and related dietary concerns compared to children without ASD. Food selectivity—characterized by eating a limited repertoire of food—is the most frequently documented feeding problem in ASD. Common dietary patterns in children with ASD often include strong preference for processed foods, snacks and starches coinciding with more frequent rejection of fruits and vegetables. Food selectivity in ASD is associated with a number of detrimental outcomes—including poor nutrient intake, increased parental stress, and problematic mealtime behaviors. Children with ASD and food selectivity frequently display disruptive behavior—including crying, throwing objects, and aggression—when presented with novel or non-preferred feeding demands. Not surprising, parents of affected children often identify mealtime as a source of strain on the family, describing meals as stressful, chaotic, and energy depleting. Food selectivity may also lead to nutritional deficiency syndromes not frequently encounters in the general pediatric population, including cases involving scurvy, rickets, and vision loss in extreme cases. Much remains unknown, however, regarding the cause, consequence, and remediation of feeding difficulties in ASD. This includes important questions regarding the relative contribution of enhanced risk for gastrointestinal pathology (e.g., immune abnormalities, mucosal barrier dysfunction, and/or disruptions in the gut microbiome) in this population. Children with ASD also experience elevated risk of obesity compared with children without ASD; however, the role of diet and food selectivity to overweight and obesity in ASD is not well understood. Together, there is a clear need for research to address critical questions about the likely inter-relationship between feeding problems, GI symptoms, and/or nutritional concerns in ASD.

The objective of this Special Issue on “Autism and Nutrition” is to showcase state-of-the-art research focusing on feeding, dietary, nutritional status, and GI functioning in children with ASD. Topics of interest include the areas of assessment, characterization, prevention, and intervention. Selected papers may also include investigations of potential biological underpinnings (e.g., the gut microbiome), as well as associated complications (e.g., obesity). The Special Issue is intended to provide a contemporary summary of current knowledge while providing guidance for future research in the field.

Dr. William G. Sharp
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nutrients is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Diet
  • Food Selectivity
  • Micronutrients
  • Mealtime Difficulties
  • Nutrient Deficiency
  • Obesity

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle Early History, Mealtime Environment, and Parental Views on Mealtime and Eating Behaviors among Children with ASD in Florida
Nutrients 2018, 10(12), 1867; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121867
Received: 8 August 2018 / Revised: 10 November 2018 / Accepted: 22 November 2018 / Published: 2 December 2018
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This study was a cross-sectional study to examine problematic mealtime behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Florida. Forty-one parents completed a 48-item survey. The mean age of their children was 8.1 years and 73% were male. The data were divided
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This study was a cross-sectional study to examine problematic mealtime behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Florida. Forty-one parents completed a 48-item survey. The mean age of their children was 8.1 years and 73% were male. The data were divided and compared by age group: Ages 2–6, 7–11, and 12–17. Data from the 3- to 6-year-old children were extracted and compared with the references from Provost et al. (2010). There were age differences in eating difficulties at home (p = 0.013), fast food restaurants (p = 0.005), and at regular restaurants (p = 0.016). The total mealtime behavior score was significantly higher in early childhood (p < 0.001) and mid-childhood (p = 0.005) than adolescents. More parents of ages 3–6 with ASD reported difficulties with breastfeeding (p < 0.01); concerns about eating (p < 0.001); difficulties related to mealtime locations (p < 0.05), craving certain food (p < 0.05), and being picky eaters (p < 0.01) compared to typically developing children. The total mealtime behavior score was significantly higher in children with ASD than typically developing children (p < 0.001). The results indicate that early childhood interventions are warranted and further research in adolescents is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autism and Nutrition Proposal)
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