Background: Gluten-free and casein-free diet is frequently used in the support of therapy of children with autism spectrum disorders. In addition, many parents restrict the consumption of simple sugars for their children.
Objective: The aim of this paper was to understand factors influencing purchase decision in case of family with children with autism spectrum disorders on gluten-free and/or casein-free and/or sugar-free diet and the difficulties associated with this type of nutrition.
Material and Methods: The study covered a group of 40 families with children with autism spectrum disorders (32 boys and 8 girls) aged 3 to 10 years. Data were collected with questionnaire included questions concerning overall characteristics of caregivers, availability of foods used in the special diet, factors affecting decision on the purchase of products, difficulties in maintaining the child nutrition method.
Results: The factors having strongest impact on parents' decisions on the purchase of products were product composition, presence of a certificate confirming the absence of gluten and/or milk and taste values. Exclusion diet constituted a considerable obstruction for traveling, social gatherings and resulted in conflicts with family and the environment. The limited range of healthy gluten-free, casein-free and sugar-free foods, low taste quality and unsatisfactory quality impeded purchase and preparation of varied meals.
Conclusions: The surveyed parents were aware consumers, paying attention primarily to product composition and safety. The respondents were looking for healthy, organic and nutritionally valuable products with low sugar content. Further development of the gluten/casein/ sugar free products market may considerably improve certain aspects of family's life with children with autism spectrum disorders.