Characteristics and clinical trajectories of patients meeting criteria for avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder that are subsequently reclassified as anorexia nervosa

Abstract
Objective
To examine the initial assessment profiles and early treatment trajectories of youth meeting the criteria for avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) that were subsequently reclassified as anorexia nervosa (AN).

Method
A retrospective cohort study of patients assessed and treated in a tertiary care eating disorders (ED) program was completed.

Results
Of the 77 included patients initially meeting criteria for ARFID, six were reclassified as having AN (7.8%) at a median rate of 71 days after the first assessment. Patients in this cohort presented at very low % treatment goal weight (median 71.6%), self‐reported abbreviated length of illness (median 6 months), and exhibited low resting heart rates (median 46 beats per minute). Nutrition and feeding focused worries related more to general health as opposed to specific weight and shape concerns or fears at assessment in half of those reclassified with AN. Treatment at the 6‐month mark varied among patients, but comprised family and individual therapy, as well as prescription of psychotropic medication.

Conclusion
Prospective longitudinal research that utilizes ARFID‐specific as well as traditional eating disorder diagnostic measures is required to better understand how patients with restrictive eating disorders that deny fear of weight gain can be differentiated and best treated.

Lead Researchers

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Researchers

  1. Wendy Spettigue

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Nicole Obeid

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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  3. Mark Norris

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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