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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eating disorders in U.S. military veterans.
Mitchell KS, Smith BN, Masheb R, Vogt D. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eating disorders in U.S. military veterans. The International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2023 Jan 1; 56(1):108-117.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health around the world. Although there have been reports that the incidence of eating disorders (EDs) has increased during the pandemic, few longitudinal studies have examined recent changes in EDs. Men and women with military histories may be particularly vulnerable to EDs, underscoring the importance of investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on EDs in this population.
We examined whether early-pandemic (Time 1; T1) posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms were associated with change in probable ED diagnostic status 1?year later (T2). We also investigated relationships from early pandemic mental health symptoms to change in ED diagnostic status from T1 to T2 via pandemic-related life circumstance pathways (health, financial, social, etc.). Participants included a population-based sample of 372 U.S. veterans who completed the T1 and T2 surveys.
Early pandemic mental health was significantly and positively associated with probable ED diagnostic status. Social and health satisfaction as well as physical health pandemic impacts mediated the associations between mental health symptoms and ED diagnostic status.
Findings highlight the importance of bolstering social connection, health-promoting behaviors, and access to ED treatment among veteran men and women impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health, including eating disorders (EDs). We found that early pandemic mental health symptoms were significantly associated with changes in U.S. veterans'' ED diagnostic status 1?year later. Mental health symptoms increased ED diagnoses via their impact on social and health satisfaction, as well as physical health impacts of the pandemic. Findings highlight the importance of increasing social connection, health-promoting behaviors, and ED treatment access among veteran men and women, who may be particularly vulnerable to EDs, during the COVID pandemic.