Evaluation and Treatment of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) in Adolescents

Curr Pediatr Rep. 2018 Jun;6(2):107-113. doi: 10.1007/s40124-018-0162-y. Epub 2018 Apr 16.


Purpose of review: Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) was added to the psychiatric nomenclature in 2013. However, youth with ARFID often present first to medical- rather than psychiatric-settings, making its evaluation and treatment relevant to pediatricians.

Recent findings: ARFID is defined by limited volume or variety of food intake motivated by sensory sensitivity, fear of aversive consequences, or lack of interest in food or eating, and associated with medical, nutritional, and/or psychosocial impairment. It appears to be as common as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and can occur in individuals of all ages. ARFID is heterogeneous in presentation and may require both medical and psychological management.

Summary: Pediatricians should be aware of the diagnostic criteria for ARFID and the possibility that these patients may require medical intervention and referral for psychological treatment. The neurobiology underlying ARFID is unknown, and novel treatments are currently being tested.

Keywords: ARFID; Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder; CBT-AR; cognitive-behavioral therapy; eating disorder; nutrition deficiencies.