Children with neurodevelopmental disorders (ND) such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) have high levels of fussy eating. However, no school-based food interventions exist for children with ASD and ADHD. To investigate the effect of Taste Education, 81 children with ND (n = 33), and without (n = 48), aged 8-12 years, and their parents, participated in a 7-week food intervention. Children were matched on age, ND, and sex, and randomized into Immediate-intervention and Delayed-intervention groups. Parents completed the Children’s Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ), and a food-variety questionnaire. After adjusting for baseline measures, repeated-measures analysis-of-variance with time-points, and condition as factors (Immediate intervention and Delayed intervention) were used to examine changes in CEBQ-scores, with a robust linear mixed-model fitted. Changes in percentage of accepted foods were tested using a logistic-regression model adjusting for baseline acceptance. Results showed superior results for Intervention compared to waiting, on Food fussiness, but not Enjoyment of food, with stable effects through six-months follow-up. There were non-significant differences between children with and without ND. Results also showed increased odds of accepting vegetables by a factor of 1.6 (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.33-1.93, p < .001); nuts and seeds by a factor of 1.4 (95% CI: 1.27-1.6, p < .001), but no significant association for fruit (OR 1.12, 95% CI: 0.92-1.34, p = .244). Trends were similar for children regardless of ND-status. The Taste Education program, shows promise, as a simple, non-invasive way to decrease fussy eating and increase food variety in the long-term.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.