The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eating disorder risk and symptoms

Rachel F. Rodgers, Caterina Lombardo, Silvia Cerolini, Debra L. Franko, Mika Omori, Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Jake Linardon, Philippe Courtet, Sebastien Guillaume

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The current COVID-19 pandemic has created a global context likely to increase eating disorder (ED) risk and symptoms, decrease factors that protect against EDs, and exacerbate barriers to care. Three pathways exist by which this pandemic may exacerbate ED risk. One, the disruptions to daily routines and constraints to outdoor activities may increase weight and shape concerns, and negatively impact eating, exercise, and sleeping patterns, which may in turn increase ED risk and symptoms. Relatedly, the pandemic and accompanying social restrictions may deprive individuals of social support and adaptive coping strategies, thereby potentially elevating ED risk and symptoms by removing protective factors. Two, increased exposure to ED-specific or anxiety-provoking media, as well as increased reliance on video conferencing, may increase ED risk and symptoms. Three, fears of contagion may increase ED symptoms specifically related to health concerns, or by the pursuit of restrictive diets focused on increasing immunity. In addition, elevated rates of stress and negative affect due to the pandemic and social isolation may also contribute to increasing risk. Evaluating and assessing these factors are key to better understanding the impact of the pandemic on ED risk and recovery and to inform resource dissemination and targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1166-1170
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume53
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • access to care
  • body image
  • eating disorders
  • media
  • risk and protective factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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