Study reveals the toll of COVID-19 on people with eating disorders

London: While it is evident that the COVID-19 outbreak is having a significant effect on the global population, a study revealed profound, negative impact on people with an experience of eating disorders. It said that the pandemic raised additional, unique psychological challenges for nine out of ten individuals with eating disorders in the United Kingdom.

The research conducted by academicians of the Psychology Department from Northumbria University, New Castle indicated detrimental impacts on psychological wellbeing. This included decreased feelings of control, increased feelings of social isolation, increased rumination about disordered eating, and low feelings of social support.

Through analysis of participants’ responses, researchers found that the negative effects may be due to changes to the individual’s regular routine, living situation, time spent with friends and family, engagement in physical activity, relationship with food and the use of technology.

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Although some positive aspects of technology use were identified, those surveyed repeatedly highlighted the emphasis upon eating and exercise that became popular on social media during the lockdown.

The research team also warned that the consequences of not being able to access professional treatment for eating disorders during the pandemic could be severe. It may cause some peoples’ conditions to become much worse and, in some cases, could prove fatal, they said.

Dr. Dawn Branley-Bell, Research Associate, said, “Our findings highlight that we must not underestimate the longevity of the impact of the pandemic. Individuals with experience of eating disorders will likely experience a long-term effect on their symptoms and recovery. It is important that this is recognised by healthcare services, and beyond, in order to offer the necessary resources to support this vulnerable population now and on an on-going basis.”

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