A mixed‐studies systematic review of the experiences of body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders during the COVID ‐19 pandemic

Jekaterina Schneider, Georgina Pegram, Benjamin Gibson, Deborah Talamonti, Aline Tinoco, Nadia Craddock, Emily Matheson, Mark Forshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
245 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: This systematic review assessed the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on body image, disordered eating (DE), and eating disorder outcomes. Methods: After registration on PROSPERO, a search was conducted for papers published between December 1, 2019 and August 1, 2021, using the databases PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, CINAHL Plus, AMED, MEDLINE, ERIC, EMBASE, Wiley, and ProQuest (dissertations and theses).Results: Data from 75 qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies were synthesized using a convergent integrated approach and presented narratively within four themes: (1) disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) variability in the improvement or exacerbation of symptoms; (3) factors associated with body image and DE outcomes; (4) unique challenges for marginalized and under represented groups. Disruptions due to the pandemic included social and functional restrictions. Although most studies reported a worsening of concerns, some participants also reported symptom improvement or no change as a result of the pandemic. Factors associated with worse outcomes included psychological, individual, social, and eating disorder-related variables. Individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ reported unique concerns during COVID-19.Discussion: There is large variability in individuals' responses to COVID-19 and limited research exploring the effect of the pandemic on body image, DE, and eating dis-order outcomes using longitudinal and experimental study designs. In addition, further research is required to investigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on body image and eating concerns among minoritized, racialized, underrepresented, or otherwise marginalized participants. Based on the findings of this review, we make recommendations for individuals, researchers, clinicians, and public health messaging. Public Significance: This review of 75 studies highlights the widespread negative impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions have had on body
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)26-67
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Early online date18 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2023


  • body image
  • coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • disordered eating
  • eating and feeding disorders
  • health inequality
  • isolation
  • lockdown
  • narrative synthesis
  • pandemic

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