The relationship between the severity of eating problems and intellectual developmental deficit level

Eynat Gal, Reem Hardal-Nasser, Batya Engel-Yeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nutrition, essential in the daily living functions promoting life quality of persons with intellectual developmental deficits (IDD), is adversely affected by the highly prevalent eating problems in these persons. The current study explores the characteristics of eating problems in population of children with intellectual developmental disorders. We elaborate existing knowledge on the relationship of severity of eating/feeding disorders and intellectual handicap level in children who suffer from IDD. This study investigated differences in the kind of these disorders observed in children with IDD on three levels: mild, moderate, and severe/profound. Ninety-one children aged 4-9 participated in this study: 25 had mild IDD, 32 moderate IDD, and 34 severe/profound IDD. Feeding/eating functions were examined with the screening tool of eating problems (STEP) which was used as the main dependent measure (Matson & Kuhn, 2001). Results suggest that the prevalence of eating problems is higher than previously reported in the literature. Eating/feeding problems proved prevalent across all levels, in almost all of those with IDD, but certain categories of problems (i.e., skills and aspiration risk) are more prevalent among the group falling within the severe/profound range of intellectual disability.This finding makes a new important experimental contribution, suggesting that everyday functions such as eating/feeding be examined in all children with IDD and that clinical differences be considered in light of categorization according to IDD level. Results are discussed in light of the need to consider its implications for practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1464-1469
Number of pages6
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Feeding/eating problems
  • Intellectual developmental deficits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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