Studies show that COVID-19 exacerbates eating disorders

Major studies have revealed the “harmful” effects of COVID-19 on people suffering from eating disorders in Australia, with 40% undiagnosed.

according to Research Of the 1,723 Australians aged 16-80 years from July to October 2020, all symptoms of eating disorders, especially body image concerns (88%), dietary restrictions (74%), and bulimia nervosa (66%) ) Is “increasing”.

We also found that people with more acute eating disorders, poor mental health, and feelings of loneliness are more likely to experience eating disorders.

Jane Miskovic-Wheatley, lead author and clinical psychologist and researcher at the University of Sydney Inside Out Institute, found that key risk factors include changes in daily life, restricted access to supporters, treatment changes, and exposure to news coverage. Said to be included. And social media.

“These factors exacerbated the existing symptoms of many people,” said Miskovic-Wheatley, adding that there are new symptoms among people who did not have an eating disorder before.

“The worst impacts were those who were not actively treated during the pandemic, those who were experiencing loneliness, and those who had comorbid mental health. “

Research published in Journal of Eating Disorders, Is one of Australia’s largest observational studies to understand the impact of the pandemic and the course of the country’s second wave, including the massive blockade of Victoria.

“Our concern is that as these waves continue, the impact can be even more pronounced,” said Miskovic-Wheatley.

“I don’t want to underestimate the long-term effects on affected people. By eating disorders — this is what we are currently investigating.”

In addition, the study noted that 40.5% of participants did not seek formal diagnosis or treatment, especially for people with a living experience of eating disorders, especially for those not yet supported by the health care system. It emphasizes the “harmful effects” of the pandemic. ..

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For some people, eating a little junk food is a rare pleasure, but for some people it is a coercion that is partially driven by the way some foods are designed. (Syda Productions / Shutterstock)

Butterfly Foundation CEO Kevin Burrow Said Eating disorders are “isolated and prosperous,” and the pandemic “arguably created the worst situation for those who are experiencing or at risk of this insidious mental illness.”

“Months of blockade, isolation, and changes in daily life have been incredibly difficult for people with dietary and body image problems, as well as for their loved ones,” he said. Told.

Barrow added that the Butterfly National Helpline, a national charity for all Australians affected by eating disorders, saw a 48% increase in phone calls (pre-provided) between 2008 and 2009. rice field.

According to a comprehensive literature review by the Butterfly Foundation, people diagnosed with eating disorders, along with children and adolescents, were at greatest risk of recurrence of eating disorders during COVID-19. In addition, the review found that eating disorder behavior was used to “self-manage the increased psychological distress” caused by the pandemic.

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews, January 14 introduction A $ 2 million fund to help Australians suffering from eating disorders. This includes $ 1.5 million for professional mental health clinicians across six metropolitan medical services.

InsideOut psychologist Rachel Simeone said people with eating disorders will continue to struggle even if more restrictions are lifted.

“For many people experiencing eating disorders, it will take a lot of time to recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic and related health measures over the last two years,” she said.

“If the restrictions are relaxed, eating disorders will not simply disappear.”

Nina Nguyen


Nina Nguyen is a Sydney-based Vietnamese reporter with a focus on Australian news. Contact her at [email protected]