This study explored whether changes to physical activity at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic affected disordered eating and compulsive exercise. Adult women (N= 174) completed online questionnaires at four points during the first 12 months of the pandemic.
For the whole sample, compulsive exercise significantly differed across timepoints, but disordered eating did not. Females who reported a change in their physical activity levels early in the pandemic reported higher levels of EDE-Q7 Shape and Weight Overevaluation and Global scores, and CET Weight Control Exercise and Total scores, compared to those who reported no change.
This suggests that changes to physical activity early in the pandemic are linked with concerns regarding body weight and shape and exercising to control weight. Longer term support may be needed regarding initial changes in physical activity during the pandemic and any future transitions in activity.
Dr Hannah White is a Lecturer in Psychology within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University. Her research focuses on disordered eating and mental health among adolescents and young adults. Of particular interest, are the interactions between young people and their families in relation to eating, body weight/shape and exercise. Hannah has experience conducting eating-focused research with adolescents, young adults and parents within both community and clinical samples.