Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Brooks College of Health

Degree Name

Doctor of Clinical Nutrition (DCN)


Nutrition & Dietetics

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Nutrition & Dietetics

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea Arikawa

Second Advisor

Dr. Lauri Wright

Third Advisor

Dr. Corinne Labyak

Department Chair

Dr. Andrea Arikawa

College Dean

Dr. Curt Lox


The adolescent’s nutrition perception is reflected in dietary intake and body composition. Obesity is prevalent among adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Dietary habits of children with ASD are affected by sensory issues, gastrointestinal factors, and parental provision of diet. This cross-sectional study identifies the relationships among variables for dietary intake, nutrition perception of intake, and anthropometric measurements for adiposity for 19 adolescents, ages 11 to 17, with ASD. Twenty-four children who are typically developing (TD) were assessed to compare all variables for significant differences. Measurements of variables of interest were obtained from the adolescent subjects: a 24-hour recall of dietary intake and a nutrition perception survey via a virtual assessment; and from parents: a single assessment of 1-year food frequency questionnaire and a body composition survey. Statistical analyses included paired-sample t-test to determine differences within and between ASD and TD mean variables. Significant differences between child-reported and parent-reported dietary intake variables determined a higher quality intake by parent report. Pearson’s r analyses assessed the correlations among variables. There were no significant inverse correlations for dietary total Healthy Eating Index score and child-reported nutrition perception for health perception. Independent sample t-tests yielded waist-to-height ratio and total nutrition perception significantly higher among ASD subjects than TD, while TD adolescents had a higher reported intake of dietary variables for whole grains and fruits than ASD, supporting prior evidence that ASD children are at a greater risk for obesity.