Study Aims and Objectives
To understand factors that contribute to bone density in boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Specific focus was placed on diet and physical activity levels.
Methods - Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
25 boys with ASD and 24 typical boys aged 8 to 17 participated in this study. The boys recorded all the foods they ate for three days and their exercise during a week to help the researchers understand eating and exercise habits of boys with ASD. The researchers used x-ray and CT imaging to measure the bone mineral density of these same subjects.
Results – Main Finding(s)
Boys with ASD had lower bone density scores. The ASD group ate approximately 16% fewer calories, 37% less animal protein and 28% less total protein than the typical boys. Furthermore, the boys with ASD ate 20% fewer grams of total fat and consumed significantly less calcium, iron, phosphorous, selenium, as well as certain key vitamins (vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, and B12).
Conclusion – Summary Statement
The boys with ASD showed significantly lower bone density scores than their typically developing peers. This may be due to a more limited diet, which results on average in 37% less animal protein consumption and an intake of significantly less calcium and phosphorus, two minerals essential for strong bones. A marked difference in physical activity level was also observed in the ASD group. It is recommended that boys with ASD supplement their current diet with more animal protein, calcium, and phosphorus, as well as engaging in more exercise.