(See also Introduction to Eating Disorders.)
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder typically begins during childhood but may develop at any age. This disorder may initially resemble the picky eating that is common during childhood—when children refuse to eat certain foods or foods of a certain color, consistency, or odor. However, such food fussiness, unlike avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, usually involves only a few food items, and the child's appetite, overall food intake, and growth and development are normal.
Patients with avoidant/restrictive food intake may not eat because they lose interest in eating or because they fear that eating will lead to harmful consequences such as choking or vomiting. They may avoid certain foods because of their sensory characteristics (eg, color, consistency, odor).
Patients with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder avoid eating food and restrict their food intake to such an extent that they have ≥ 1 of the following:
Nutritional deficiencies can be life threatening, and social functioning (eg, participating in family meals, spending time with friends in situations where eating may occur) can be markedly impaired.
Criteria for avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder include the following:
However, patients who have a physical disorder that causes decreased food intake but who maintain the decreased intake for much longer than typically expected and to a degree requiring specific intervention may be considered to have avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.