Adult picky eaters with symptoms of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: Comparable distress and comorbidity but different eating behaviors compared to those with disordered eating symptoms
Picky eaters are people who avoid many new and familiar foods because they dislike the taste, smell, texture, or appearance of many foods. When it is severe, picky eating can lead to weight loss or difficulty maintaining a healthy weight, nutritional deficiencies, dependence on supplements to get adequate nutrition or calories, or shame, anxiety, or difficulty engaging in daily life. When severe picky eating leads to these consequences, it can be diagnosed as Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). People who restrict the amount of food they consume (or engage in exercise, purging, or fasting behaviors to get rid of calories after eating) because they are afraid of gaining weight or being fat are diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia when their eating leads to weight loss, nutritional problems, or interferes with life. ARFID is a new diagnosis, and in this paper, we show that 1) adults with ARFID symptoms are just as distressed, and just as likely to have symptoms of depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder, as those with anorexia or bulimia, but that 2) adults with ARFID show very different types of eating behavior from adults with symptoms of anorexia or bulimia.