Behind the systematic “no” to certain dishes there may be a rare pathology discovered only a few years ago, let’s find out what it is.
It is a disorder that has been noticed in relatively recent times, with specific symptoms that identify a conflictual relationship with food and nutrition.
It is known that as children we are more “picky” with the dishes at the table or, better, more “selective”. Sometimes turning into little disconnectors committed to discarding unwelcome ingredients with surgical precision, it doesn’t matter if it took a lot of time to cook that elaborate dish.
Selectivity at the table is a typical feature of childhood which usually gradually fades with growth leaving room, with maturity, for a more ecumenical spirit towards food. As age progresses, broader views on flavors usually emerge, more sophisticated tastes are experienced, etc. Already as a teenager, in general, the catalog of permitted foods is much wider than that of prohibited foods.
When the “no” at the table is not a whim but a pathology
But that’s not always the case: there are those who stubbornly persist in their systematic rejection of some dishes. But it may not be a freak, but a real disease. Since 2013 it has been classified as an eating disorder: its name is Arfid, Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder.
Of course you have to know how to distinguish: it is one thing to be picky and throw tantrums at the table, another to suffer from an eating disorder. Obviously to find out we will have to consult a specialist, without venturing into do-it-yourself (a recipe only good for causing disasters).
Arfid sufferers avoid eatingmanifesting disinterest and poor appetite. Or excludes dishes based on their appearance, smell, taste. More commonly it manifests itself by avoiding a certain type of food, perhaps selected by color (eating only white or red foods, for example) or by texture (only creamy or crunchy foods, again to give a practical example).
Or again, there is no shortage of those who want eat only very small portions of food or who has afraid to eat for fear of incurring after the meal in negative reactions already experienced in the past (allergic reactions, vomiting, suffocation).
Arfid, the results of the Swedish study
So coded, this disorder has officially entered the DSM-5, the international “bible” of psychiatry (or, rather, the standard manual of international psychiatry which classifies mental disorders). A recent entry, as we have seen. And now comes a further discovery, namely that Arfid is the one among the psychiatric disorders associated with food more transmissible by inheritance. There is even talk of 79% of cases.
A research that appeared in the journal has come to such a conclusion Jama Psychiatry and conducted by Dr. Lisa Dinkler (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden). The study took place on twins, as is usual in studies related to genetics. In the first case, the twins came from the same fertilized egg, with 100% the same genes. In the second case, however, they were brothers born together but coming from two different fertilized eggs, which therefore have about half of their genes in common (while the rest is shaped by the environment, events and life experiences).
According to Dr. Dinkler the prevalence of Arfid “it ranges from 1 to 5 percent of the population and is at least as prevalent as autism and deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)». The data used in the research comes from the “Swedish Study of Twin Children and Adolescents” which brings together statistics on the psychiatric health and development of all twins born in Sweden since July 1, 1992. Among those born between 1992 and 2010, approximately 34,000 individuals, the researcher identified 682 with a diagnosis of Arfid – which has different consequences from those caused by anorexia nervosa, bulimia or a body image disorder.
Problems caused by Arfid, that’s what they are
The survey showed that the prevalence of Arfid is higher among males (2.4%) than females (1.6%). The problems caused by this eating disorder and which have been revealed are, in order:
- Weight loss (or failure to gain weight): 62% of cases;
- Psychosocial difficulties: 50.6%;
- Need to resort to supplements or tube feeding: 8.5%;
- Nutritional deficiency: 0.6%.
Arfid, the weight of inheritance
By comparing the prevalence of Arfid between identical and fraternal twins in reference to their respective parents and close relatives, we have come to the evidence of a 79% risk due to the transmission of genetic factors. This is a significant figure, much higher than those recorded by anorexia (48-74%), bulimia (55-61%) and binge eating (binge eating disorder, not to be confused with bulimia: 39-57%).
Il heritability rate of Arfidis the conclusion of Swedish researchers, is located on same level as autism, schizophrenia and ADHD. It must be said that since it is still a relatively “young” disorder, the diagnostic boundaries of Arfid still appear not well defined.
So far it has been discovered, the experts explain, that Arfid shares some symptoms common to very different pathologies, such as eating and anxiety disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. Further studies and research, currently underway, will be needed to draw a clearer profile.
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