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The association between autistic traits and disordered eating is moderated by sex/gender and independent of anxiety and depression

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Elizabeth EvansORCiD, Dr Gareth RichardsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Previous studies have reported positive correlations between autistic traits and disordered eating, though it is unclear whether the association is moderated by sex/gender or whether it is independent of anxiety or depression. We present the findings of an online survey of 691 participants who completed the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and Eating Attitudes Test-26 (EAT-26). Following a pre-registered analysis plan, we observed positive correlations between AQ and EAT-26 in males and females, with the association being significantly stronger in females. AQ also remained a significant predictor of EAT-26 when anxiety or depression were controlled for statistically. These findings may be relevant when considering therapeutic interventions in disordered eating populations that exhibit autistic traits.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Barnett A, Edwards K, Harper R, Evans E, Alexander D, Choudhary M, Richards G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Year: 2021

Volume: 51

Pages: 1866-1879

Print publication date: 01/06/2021

Online publication date: 27/08/2020

Acceptance date: 14/08/2020

Date deposited: 27/08/2020

ISSN (print): 0162-3257

ISSN (electronic): 1573-3432

Publisher: Springer New York LLC


DOI: 10.1007/s10803-020-04669-z


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Funder referenceFunder name
School of Psychology, Newcastle University