Differential comorbidity profiles in avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder and anorexia nervosa: Does age play a role?

P. Evelyna Kambanis, Stephanie G. Harshman, Megan C. Kuhnle, Danielle L. Kahn, Melissa J. Dreier, Kristine Hauser, Meghan Slattery, Kendra R. Becker, Lauren Breithaupt, Madhusmita Misra, Nadia Micali, Elizabeth A. Lawson, Kamryn T. Eddy, Jennifer J. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Research comparing psychiatric comorbidities between individuals with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) and anorexia nervosa (AN) is limited. ARFID often develops in childhood, whereas AN typically develops in adolescence or young adulthood. Understanding how age may impact differential psychological comorbidity profiles is important to inform etiological conceptualization, differential diagnosis, and treatment planning. We aimed to compare the lifetime frequency of psychiatric comorbidities and suicidality between females with ARFID (n = 51) and AN (n = 40), investigating the role of age as a covariate. Method: We used structured interviews to assess the comparative frequency of psychiatric comorbidities/suicidality. Results: When age was omitted from analyses, females with ARFID had a lower frequency of depressive disorders and suicidality compared to AN. Adjusting for age, only suicidality differed between groups. Discussion: This is the first study to compare comorbidities in a similar number of individuals with ARFID and AN, and a structured clinical interview to confer ARFID and comorbidities, covarying for age, and the first to compare suicidality. Although suicidality is at least three times less common in ARFID than AN, observed differences in other psychiatric comorbidities may reflect ARFID's relatively younger age of presentation compared to AN. Public Significance: Our results highlight that, with the exception of suicidality, which was three times less common in ARFID than AN irrespective of age, observed differences in psychiatric comorbidities in clinical practice may reflect ARFID's younger age at clinical presentation compared to AN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1397-1403
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • anorexia nervosa
  • anxiety, obsessive–compulsive, and trauma-related disorders
  • avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
  • depressive and bipolar-related disorders
  • feeding and eating disorders
  • neurodevelopmental, disruptive, and conduct disorders
  • psychiatric comorbidities
  • structured clinical interview
  • suicidality


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