July 15, 2013

Autistics are more carboholic and more obese

Across the various camps within the overall movement to normalize infantilization, there's a systematic whitewashing of all of those embarrassing facts and patterns that remind normal people that the group we're now supposed to accept and embrace is in reality shamefully kiddie.

And it's considered in poor taste to highlight how infantile the group is, and to hold adolescent and adult norms as ideal, as though nothing could be meaner than grown-ups ganging up on or ostracizing the little kids who can't stick up for themselves.

The main example of this is, of course, the homo acceptance movement. You can't get much more infantile than a bunch of hyperactive airheads who build their very identity on the foundation of finding girls yucky.

After them is the autism acceptance movement. As with homosexual drama queens disturbing you at your hang-outs and place of work, we're just supposed to "not judge" autistics and let them disturb us or our children with their toddler-like self-centeredness. "They can't help it, they were born that way." Oh yeah, I forgot -- why bother holding quasi-children to any norms or standards, when parents these days already let normal children act like total brats?

I feel bad taking on autistics now, because they aren't as loathsome as faggots. They aren't aggressively in-your-face, and while the parent / surrogate parents who promote autism acceptance are engaging in a form of attempting to normalize deviance, at least it's not a viscerally disgusting crime-against-nature kind of deviance.

Still, I'm fed up with normal people not being allowed to point out how infantile autistics are, to get the individuals themselves, their caregivers, teachers, or community members to start reining in their toddlerness. For their own good, and for ours.

I just spent the weekend with an autistic step-relative who I only see once or twice a year. I didn't pick up on her eating habits before, but they became crystal-clear this weekend because she's put on so much weight. Knowing the basics of what causes obesity, I suspected that she ate too much carbs.

Well, it turned out far worse -- it was like she ate only carbs, in fact only starch and sugar. She might have had a piece of cod or salmon one night, but as a rule she stuck to starch and sugar. Three or four kinds of candy, potato chips, pretzels, rice (with a little egg foo young), bread, cinnamon buns, raspberry pie (that had little filling, mostly the crumbly pastry stuff), ice cream, fruit juice, fries, milkshakes...

I've never seen someone so determined to eat only sucrose, or in a pinch, glucose and fructose from separate foods. She eats like a 2 year-old, not a 22 year-old. Food preference would seem to go along with their poor motor, language, and social skills, keeping them in toddlerhood. Is that typical?

From the background section of a recent presentation:

Food selectivity (i.e., consuming a narrow range of food by type, texture, and/or presentation) is often cited among children with [Autism Spectrum Disorders]. Typically, children with ASD have strong preferences for carbohydrates, snacks, and/or processed foods and rejection of fruits and vegetables.

Bingo. Keep that in mind any time you hear about "picky eaters," autistic or otherwise. Their kid isn't a hardcore carnivore, or a strict spinach-eater. He's a sugar-sucking starch junkie.

Here is a lit review that suggests the picture isn't so clear on the tastes of autistics, other than their wanting less variety. Going through the references, though, it seems like most of the ones showing that autistics are getting mostly normal nutrition reflect the intervention of parents who put their kids on a strict diet. Especially the data showing a lack of dairy intake, which suggests the parents put them on a gluten-free / casein-free diet. These super-parents are the minority who over-ride their kids' preferences for their own good.

In the lab studies where the kid was offered different types of food by an experimenter, and who therefore expressed their underlying preferences, they were more likely to refuse non-starchy foods, and were more accepting of starch.

Not surprisingly, autistics are much more likely to be overweight or obese (source):

In the new study [of autistic children], researchers classified...about 15 percent as being overweight... Another...almost 18 percent were obese...
In comparison, a previous estimate based on a nationwide sample of children of similar age...found that about 11 percent are overweight and 10 percent obese.

That amounts to a difference between the average autistic and the average normal kid of 0.37 standard deviations. If we thought of being lean as like being tall, it's as though autistic children were on average an inch shorter than normal kids. Not the largest gap in the world, but still something you'd notice in real life. Particularly at the extremes like morbid obesity.

And remember that autism is a "spectrum" disorder, not a black-and-white thing. There are spergs who are less extreme than autistics, and the semi-spergs just below them. They will show these food traits too, if not to quite the same extreme. But just think of what the typical geek or nerd subsists on -- a 7-11 diet. All starch and sugar, perhaps with a little animal protein and fat somewhere down there, like those puny little shrimp underneath the mound of ramen noodles.

Every time you see someone eating that stuff, you want to try to shame them by asking them if they're still 5 years old. Or at least give them that disgusted, disappointed, and disapproving look, like "seriously bro, wtf?" or however you say that.

But, you're not supposed to judge or shame anyone anymore. Hence why the parents of autistic children allow them to blimp out even more than today's already lardass children. Helicopter parents of normal kids set at least some kind of boundaries. But since autistic kids can't help it, it feels too mean to deny them whatever they want at any given moment. If that warps their bodies and minds even more than they already are, well, that's their problem, not yours. You feel nice and generous for letting them get what they want.

To project into the future, as our population becomes more and more autistic, we can see how joyless and addictive our daily lives will become. Feeding is such a basic thing, and we're going to feel no satisfaction or fulfillment from it because there will be less animal fat and protein, and more carby junk that puts you on a treadmill of addiction, leaving you perpetually hungry and aching to snack.

It also goes to show how lacking in pleasure a cerebral person's life is, even when it comes down to something as material and corporeal as food. It's just another joyless addiction in their repetitive OCD existence. Autistics are the prototypical group of people who live entirely within their minds, whose senses are all outta-whack and whose bodies don't work right in the world. The void of satisfaction, fulfillment, and pleasure ought to be the strongest wake-up call to all these cheerleaders for our Revenge of the Nerds zeitgeist.


  1. I would have though autistic would be into the low carb or paleo thing, since it seems like a simple rule based system of eating ("I must eat only non carbs!"), that taps into that kind of psychology.

    Same as with how they are supposed to be overrepresented in anorexia nervosa.

  2. In rising-crime milieus, people eat out frequently. This blog, for instance, has documented changes in the interiors of fast-food restaurants - with fast food joints being more welcoming and comfortable from 1960-1990.

    When people always eat somewhere else, they don't have to spend a lot of time figuring out what they are supposed to eat. It just happens naturally.

    People eating together is just more common - whether as a family,

    I go to the convenience store a lot - because I wouldn't even know where to start to learn how to cook, and my parents didn't cook when I was growing up. Its just more convenient for me.

    My favorite type of eating style would be that practiced on colleges - two meals a days in a restaurant or dining hall.


  3. Eating disorders aren't just a Millenial thing, also. Many Baby-boomers and Gen-Xers developed disorders during falling-crime zeitgeist.

    This would indicate that many people in general, including the mature older generations, are not equipped to feed themselves independently, and need help. This help is there in an "outgoing" zeitgeist, but has been absent since the 90s(excepting the period between 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina). I think you're being a little too hard on people with this one...

    The 90s saw the term anorexia enter the public lexicon for the first time. The 90s were also, of course, the explosion of the obesity epidemic.


  4. Bingo. Keep that in mind any time you hear about "picky eaters," autistic or otherwise. Their kid isn't a hardcore carnivore, or a strict spinach-eater. He's a sugar-sucking starch junkie.

    That said, picky eaters generally tend to be underweight, as most adult with caregiving experience to a picky eater child (or a kid going through a picky eater stage) will attest (its obvious that kids who will only tend to eat crisps or whatever tend to be way skinnier than the ones with varied diets).

    We'd have to have a pretty low awareness of other human beings (autism?) to think anything contrary, so it seems a little silly putting this down, but here are some papers which attest to this -

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2817450/ - Satiety Responsiveness/Slowness in Eating and Food Fussiness showed a graded negative association with weight, while Food Responsiveness, Enjoyment of Food, Emotional Overeating and Desire to Drink were positively associated.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1855064/ - The proportion of children reported for each eating behaviour category remained quite stable across the years studied. Picky eating and overeating related to body weight among 4.5-year-old children, even when social and parental factors were accounted for in multivariate analysis. Picky eaters were twice as likely to be underweight at 4.5 years as children who were never picky eaters. Adjusted odds ratios revealed overeaters were 6 times more likely to be overweight at 4.5 years than were children who were never overeaters.

  5. I also found another study on ASD and picky eating that was interesting, starting with a very large and generalized group of kids but with some findings on the diagnosed autistic subset -

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2004676,00.html –

    “By the end of the study, when the children were 7 years old, 79 had been diagnosed with an ASD; 12,901 had not.

    Researchers found that by the time they were 1 month old, the autistic children were already 35% more likely than unaffected children to be slow feeders.

    By their first birthday, their diets were considerably less varied — they ate fewer vegetables and fruits, but they also consumed fewer sweets and carbonated beverages.

    By that age, children with ASD were nearly twice as likely to be choosier about their food than unaffected children, according to their parents' reports.

    However, the scientists found no significant differences in the total energy intake or overall carbohydrate, fat and protein consumption between the autistic children and the controls at 18 months.

    All the children were similar in height, weight and body mass index (BMI; a ratio of height to weight used to measure obesity).

    "For parents of an autistic child, these data suggest they needn't be too concerned about their child's eating habits," says Pauline Emmett, a nutritionist and one of the authors of the research paper, which was published in Pediatrics. "In general, these children are not going to end up malnourished. I think it's a hopeful message for parents.”

    So supportive in a sense, in terms of the autistic kids ignoring fruits and vegetables, but being much less vulnerable to sweets (candy) and drinks that addict despite their bland or unpleasant taste by shoving lots of sugar into the bloodstream and hotwiring the reward mechanisms.

    I would guess autistics are less sensitive to the hyper-stimulating aspects of these foods, just as autistics and introverts tend to show less reward sensitivity (thus why extraversion usually correlates with more obesity within a population). Non-autistics maybe are wired to find their environment and things they sense more stimulating (thus more engagement with people and things outside themselves), and unfortunately that may mean greater vulnerability to these addicting foods.

    It's interesting how different this finding was from the kids diagnosed at 4 years old.

    That might be because those kids diagnosed at that young age have lots of obvious problems.

  6. "picky eaters generally tend to be underweight"

    Maybe, but the main point is that terms like "picky" and "finicky" are just attempts to dress up the embarrassing truth about what the kid insists on eating.

    If it were about something where people have their preferences, but they don't really matter -- being a cat person or a dog person -- then no big deal in saying that someone is "picky" about living with cats instead of dogs.

    But when it's meant to whitewash the addictive / OCD / joyless features of their lives, then it's getting in the way of making things better.

  7. Like I said, the lit review of all studies done on food preferences of autistics shows that they're a bit all over the place. You have to use your own judgement in sorting them out -- in particular, the role of the parents in restricting their kid's diet, vs. the kid eating what they truly want.

    At least in a lab setting where parents cannot interfere with the kid's desires, they were much more rejecting of non-starchy foods.

    Also, the study you quote only talks about what the autistics were like from 12 to 18 months old -- before you really discover junk food during your toddler and childhood years.

  8. "Eating disorders aren't just a Millenial thing, also."

    Right. "Grow up, Heather -- bulimia is so '87..."

    When I looked into it, they seemed to track the rising crime rate. Girls wanted to slim during the '20s and the '60s, '70s, and '80s. During the mid-century and Millennial era, it was more about va-va-voom and junk in the trunk.

  9. Curtis,

    The 90s saw the term anorexia enter the public lexicon for the first time. The 90s were also, of course, the explosion of the obesity epidemic.

    Interestingly, google ngrams show the terms anorexia and obesity track real closely, having a huge rise during the 1970 - 1984 period, then plateauing thereafter.

    Bulimia is a word that increases strongly in frequency during the 80s, fro basically nothing, then plateaus again in the early 90s (agnostic has pretty accurately nailed the Heathers thing, an that increase in bulimia or public concern about it, is probably a signature of the 80s compared to earlier decades).


    The term overweight shows basically the same kind of pattern as obesity and anorexia, with a dramatic rise in the 1970s to early 80s, but with a slight spike again in the late 90s.

    The term underweight rises as a term in 1915 to 1930, plateaus until the late 40s and then declines to lower plateau by the 1970s. Perhaps this pattern for underweight is due to the Great Depression and high inequality of the early twentieth century (which declined during the mid century, then stayed constant)?


    The 90s were also, of course, the explosion of the obesity epidemic.

    There are probably better graphs, but this one shows a rate increase beginning in the 70s - 80s period, and then having pretty much the same rate increases thereafter


    (source -http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_adult_09_10/obesity_adult_09_10.htm )


    That would seem to match up perfectly with the ngrams, that show concern about obesity spiking in the 70s and 80s.

    Why do you think the 90s were the explosion of an obesity epidemic, or even an explosion of public concern about obesity?

  10. 'A nation of bachelors and only sons' like France since before WWI, or America since the 60s, is bound to encourage a lot of childish behavior. Mothers of four or five son s have the 'boys will be boys' thing down. Mothers of one son get their knickers twisty over any hint of guy-type behavior; or, the risk-acceptance concomittant.

  11. "A nation of bachelors and only sons' like France since before WWI, or America since the 60s, is bound to encourage a lot of childish behavior. Mothers of four or five son s have the 'boys will be boys' thing down. Mothers of one son get their knickers twisty over any hint of guy-type behavior; or, the risk-acceptance concomittant."

    I think Agnostic discounted "only child phenomenon" as the explanation of Millenial immaturity.

    Australia and South Korea have wild, outgoing young people. Yet both countries also have been experiencing a very low birthrate and a deluge of only children.

    Many normal people have problems feeding themselves. But in outgoing societies, people are more likely to 1) eat together, so the one guy who can cook cooks for everybody; or 2)eat out at the local burger joint or whatever.


  12. "Interestingly, google ngrams show the terms anorexia and obesity track real closely, having a huge rise during the 1970 - 1984 period, then plateauing thereafter."

    I guess I stand corrected. I don't think anorexia entered into high school health classes until the 90s, though.


  13. "During the mid-century and Millennial era, it was more about va-va-voom and junk in the trunk."

    Rising-crime zeitgeists show more of a preference for slender women. However, I don't remember anorexia or bulimia being sensationalized in the media during the 60s, 70s, or 80s. I do remember learning about anorexia nad bulimia in jr. high and high school health class in the 90s, and seeing it often in the media then and now. What do you think? Were those issues discussed frequently in teh New Wave, and I'm just unaware of it?


  14. "Same as with how they are supposed to be overrepresented in anorexia nervosa."

    Its been linked to perfectionism. The author Tom Wolfe also ties it to the upper class("social X-rays").

    I don't think it would be linked to autism. Autistics are oblivious to the expectations of others, whereas anorexics are attuned to the expectations of others(but get those expectations wrong).

    Perfectionism, though a sign of immaturity, signals at least some sign of maturity. The perfectionist wants to get it right, but can't figure out how to do that.

    Autistics are on a lower level. They are tuned out to the expectations of others, focused purely on gathering information about their environment.

    What do you think, Agnostic? Or anybody else? Am I looking at this the wrong way?


  15. Does this apply to schizophrenics as well?

    "Research has suggested an increased risk of diabetes among people with schizophrenia. In addition, many new antipsychotic medications can elevate blood sugar levels."

    I remember reading an article on this in the NY Times, but I can't find it. It showed obese people with schizophrenia living in an institution.

  16. Are carboholic obese mothers more likely to have autistic children?


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