Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with communication, problems with social interactions, and repetitive patterns. A greater proportion of children with ASD tend to experience nutritional difficulties and feeding issues compared to neurotypical (NT) children; however, limited research has been examined that compares nutritional behaviors between children with ASD and NT youth. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in gastrointestinal issues, weight concerns, and mealtime behaviors in youth with ASD and NT youth. Data was utilized from the 2019 National Survey of Children’s Health which consisted of items related to children’s health and well-being. Parent-reported variables on dietary behaviors, child weight concerns, mealtime behaviors, and food insecurity were compared between children with ASD and NT youth using chi-square analyses. Results: A total of 868 (weighted sample of 2,068,404) children with ASD and 28,441 (weighted sample of 72,451,623) NT children were included in the analysis. A greater percentage of parents of children with ASD reported weight-related concerns about their child (pp=0.57). Conclusion: Children with ASD experience more nutrition-related difficulties than NT youth although there were no differences in family mealtime patterns. Future research should examine food insecurity in families of children with ASD and its relationship with nutritional difficulties in this population.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Garcia, Jeanette M.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health Professions and Sciences


Health Sciences

Degree Program

Health Sciences Pre-Clinical Track



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date