Pandemic another trigger for eating-disorders

More than 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from eating disorders. COVID-19 can be a nightmare for them because of certain triggers: Empty grocery shelves. Feelings of uncertainty and loss of control. And social media messages about avoiding the “Quarantine 15” weight gain are especially harmful to those with existing eating disorders.

A recent study conducted by the International Journal for Eating Disorders found that symptoms worsened across the board for people with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders nationwide since lockdowns and other impacts of the pandemic began in March 2020. Among respondents, 62 percent of people with anorexia have experienced more severe restriction and food fear during the pandemic, while 30 percent of those with bulimia and binge-eating disorders reported experiencing more binge-eating episodes, and a greater urge to binge.


  • 9 percent of the U.S. population will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. About 2 percent have bulimia nervosa, which involves extreme overeating followed by depression and self-induced vomiting or fasting.
  • Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder. Unlike more widely known eating disorders which disproportionately effect women, 40 percent of those with BED are men.
  • 10 percent of those with eating disorders die as a result.
  • Eating disorders are second only to opioid overdose as the deadliest mental illnesses.

Disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating typically involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Specific warning signs and symptoms of eating disorders can vary, depending on the type of disorder. While some symptoms may be noticeable, eating disorders are also inherently secretive mental illnesses. This can make detection of an eating disorder difficult.

Some higher-weight and obese individuals with eating disorders face health risks including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other heart-related complications, as well as joint issues.


Source: Eating Recovery Center, which offers treatment (including virtual) at locations in Washington (Bellevue) and six other states.