A lot has been made of the so-called “quarantine 15.” Now, a new study suggests certain people are more likely to binge eat during the coronavirus pandemic than others.
Most often they are young adults who faced social stigma about being overweight before COVID-19 swept the globe.
The researchers found this group had higher levels of depressive symptoms, stress, eating as a coping strategy and binge-eating behaviors compared to those who hadn’t dealt with weight stigma previously.
The risk of binge eating was nearly three times higher among those who’d been teased or mistreated because of their size compared to those who hadn’t, according to the study.
The study included nearly 600 young adults who took part in a previous study on eating and activity, and completed a follow-up survey during the pandemic.
“Understanding whether weight stigma elevates risk for health challenges during the pandemic represents a critical first step for the development of health messaging, responses, and support during outbreaks of COVID-19 and similar public health emergencies,” said study author Rebecca Puhl. She is deputy director of the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
“With additional outbreaks and more cases of COVID-19 expected in the coming months, it is important to support individuals who may be prone to worse health and health behaviors exacerbating their risk during these times of pandemic,” Puhl said in a center news release.
“Weight stigma warrants attention in research and discourse related to COVID-19, and should be considered in public health messaging,” she added.
The study findings held for men and women, regardless of their body weight, during initial stay-at-home restrictions and after restrictions were lifted.
The study was published Sept. 10 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about binge eating.