Needs for a Healthy Eating Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Study

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Objectives: This study aimed to better understand perceptions of healthy eating and a prospective nutrition intervention in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and parents of adolescents with ASD. Methods: Four focus groups (n = 11) were conducted with adolescents with ASD aged 10–17, and nine interviews were conducted with parents of adolescents with ASD aged 10–17. Questions were semi-structured. Thematic and comparative analyses were conducted with ATLAS.ti 8 software. Results: Several themes emerged. Adolescents and parents expressed a need for “nutrition guidelines and education” and discussed the importance of having “social engagement,” “visual components,” and “teen-led initiatives” in a nutrition intervention. When defining a healthy diet, both parents and adolescents mentioned the concept of a “balanced diet,” while parents also mentioned “clean foods.” Conclusions: Adolescents with ASD represent an appropriate target audience for a healthy eating intervention, and an intervention should include visual and social components and teen-led initiatives.

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Current Developments in Nutrition, v. 4, issue Supplement_2, p. 164