Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder that involves restrictions in the amount and/or type of food eaten. This restriction can be based on sensory elements (such as not liking the smell or texture of food), concerns about negative consequences of eating, or a general lack of interest in food. A key component of ARFID is that individuals are not distressed about body image or weight. There is an increased risk of ARFID in individuals who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and/or anxiety disorders.
Lots of children will have a level of fussy eating throughout childhood. However, ARFID is an extreme form of fussy eating that children do not ‘grow out of’. The limited variety of food can lead to failure to thrive, dependence on nutritional supplements and difficulties eating socially.
Diagnosis of ARFID is associated with at least one of the following:
- Significant weight loss (or failure to achieve weight gain/physical growth in children);
- Significant nutritional deficiency;
- Dependence on tube feeding (supplying nutrients directly to the gastrointestinal tract) or oral nutritional supplements;
- Marked interference on an individual’s psychosocial functioning (e.g., impacts on daily activities).