As the U.S. marks one year of the pandemic, along with tracking COVID-19 cases, health professionals have been closely eyeing another statistic: a rise in reported eating disorders.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, hotline calls related to eating disorders have gone up 70 to 80 percent in the last several months, while a survey in the International Journal of Eating Disorders reports that 62 percent of people in the U.S. with anorexia and a third with binge-eating disorders have reported a worsening of their symptoms during the pandemic.
Dr. Jonathan Baktari, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of e7 Health, said he’s not surprised to hear the numbers around eating disorders and weight issues have gone up during the pandemic.
He said a mix of factors is likely responsible — with financial pressure from economic hardships created by pandemic-related job losses chief among them.
“Disruption to people’s lives in itself is a risk factor for a spiking of anxiety disorders and eating disorders,” Dr. Baktari said. “Certainly people losing their jobs or having their daily schedule changed or confined to the house and not being able to get out and exercise … this contributes to pre-existing anxiety and eating disorders,” he said.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are three primary categories of eating disorders, with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder commonly accompanying them:
- Anorexia nervosa: When someone becomes severely underweight by extremely limiting calorie intake.
- Bulimia nervosa: Often characterized by binging and purging behaviors, due to guilt over feeling a lack of control.
- Binge-eating disorder: Episodes that can result from feeling a lack of control and eating too much, even when the person doesn’t feel hungry.
Dr. Baktari added that even those who may have felt they had a handle on their eating disorder or weight issues prior to the start of the pandemic are likely struggling as well.
“There’s a lot of confinement; there’s changing of your routine; there’s economic hardship,” he said. “It all can come together and exacerbate issues that people were dealing with — maybe modestly well — prior to the pandemic.”
MORE ABOUT E7 HEALTH
e7 Health is a preventative health and wellness company supervised by Board Certified Doctors, providing seven sectors of preventive medical care in the convenience of a one-stop clinic.
e7 Health has pioneered an array of wellness programs combining the latest in wellness medicine with advanced software technology. Its proprietary-owned and developed suite of software systems allows it to leverage technology to provide cutting-edge medical care while providing efficiencies and cost savings for clients.
Since e7 Health operates on a fee-for-service-based business model, it is largely immune to the changes and uncertainties of traditional health or government insurance programs.