Gender and racial/ethnic differences in food selectivity in children with intellectual disabilities

J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2021 Nov;34(6):1511-1520. doi: 10.1111/jar.12895. Epub 2021 May 16.


Background: We examined differences in food selectivity by gender and parent race/ethnicity in children with intellectual disabilities.

Method: A convenience sample of 56 children with intellectual disabilities was analysed. A modified Youth/Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaire and a 3-day food record were used to measure child food refusal rate and food repertoire, respectively.

Results: Boys were about twice as likely to refuse total foods (rate ratio = 2.34, 95%CI = 1.34-4.09) and fruits (rate ratio = 2.03, 95%CI = 1.04-3.95) and 54% more likely to refuse vegetables (rate ratio = 1.54, 95%CI = 0.93-2.54). Children with Hispanic parents were twice as likely to refuse vegetables compared to children with non-Hispanic White parents (rate ratio = 2.00, 95%CI = 1.03-3.90). In analyses stratified by the presence or absence of co-occurring probable autism spectrum disorder, boys had greater food selectivity than girls.

Conclusions: This study expands our understanding of food selectivity in children with intellectual disabilities.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; children; disparities; food refusal; food selectivity; intellectual disability.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Child
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability*
  • Male
  • Parents