National Eating Disorders Association

Like for all eating disorders, the risk factors for ARFID involve a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural issues. These factors may interact differently in different people, which means two people with the same eating disorder can have very diverse perspectives, experiences, and symptoms. Researchers know much less about what puts someone at risk of developing ARFID, but here’s what they do know:

  • People with autism spectrum conditions are much more likely to develop ARFID, as are those with ADHD and intellectual disabilities.
  • Children who don’t outgrow normal picky eating, or in whom picky eating is severe, appear to be more likely to develop ARFID.
  • Many children with ARFID also have a co-occurring anxiety disorder, and they are also at high risk for other psychiatric disorders.


Nicely, T., Lane-Loney, S., Masciulli, E., Hollenbbeak, C., & Ornstein, R. (2014). Prevalence and characteristics of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in a cohort of young patients in day treatment for eating disorders. Journal of Eating Disorders, 2. Doi: 10.1186/s40337-014-0021-3.

Nicholls, D., Lynn, R., & Viner, R. (2011). Childhood eating disorders: British national surveillance study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 198, 295-301. 

Norris, M., Robinson, A., Obeid, N., ,Harrison, M., Spettigue, W., & Henderson, K. (2014). Exploring avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in eating disorder patients: A descriptive study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47, 495-499. 

Ornstein, R., Rosen, D., Mammel, K., Callahan, T., Forman, S., Jay, M., et al. (2013). Distribution of eating disorders in children and adolescents using the proposed DSM-5 criteria for feeding and eating disorders. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 303-305.

Zucker, N., Copeland, W., Franz, L., Carpenter, K., Keeling, L., Angold, A., et al. (2015). Psychological and psychosocial impairment in preschoolers with selective eating. Pediatrics, 136, 1-9.