Eating Problems in Autistic Females and Males: A Co-twin Control Study

J Autism Dev Disord. 2022 Jul;52(7):3153-3168. doi: 10.1007/s10803-021-05198-z. Epub 2021 Jul 22.


This study investigated the association between autism and self-reported eating problems and the influence of gender on the association, in a sample of adolescent and adult twins (N = 192). Autistic traits and autism diagnosis were associated with both total and specific eating problems, including selective eating and sensory sensitivity during mealtimes. Interaction effects indicated a stronger association between autistic traits and total eating problems in females, as well as more difficulties with eating in social contexts among autistic females. In within-pair analyses, where unmeasured confounders including genes and shared environment are implicitly controlled for, the association was lost within monozygotic pairs, which might further indicate a genetic influence on the relationship between autism and eating problems.

Keywords: Autism; Co-twin control design; Eating; Gender differences.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / genetics
  • Autistic Disorder* / genetics
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Twins, Dizygotic
  • Twins, Monozygotic