Study says hospitalizations for eating disorder increased 48% in pandemic – 05/11/2022

It is a systematic review published. International Journal of Eating Disorders It suggests a 48% increase in hospital admissions related to eating disorders (ED) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 and TA

EDs are mental disorders characterized by disturbances in eating or eating behavior that significantly impair physical and psychosocial health. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and restrictive/avoidant eating disorder are some examples of ED.

As we know, the covid-19 pandemic has had consequences for the health of many people, as well as economic, financial and social consequences. While the pandemic has damaged the mental health of the population in general, it is likely to have particularly affected people who suffer from AD or are at higher risk of developing it.

Therefore, the evidence indicates that hospital admissions of people with AD have increased due to the pandemic.

It is believed that pandemic control measures such as social isolation may have contributed to the exacerbation of problematic eating behaviors and the consequent increase in hospitalizations for ED.

With this in mind, a research team led by Daniel J. Devoe of the Mathison Center for Mental Health at the University of Calgary, Canada, conducted a systematic review examining the scientific literature on covid-19 and ED.

The aim was to synthesize the impact of the pandemic on EDs, starting with the hypothesis that people suffering from these mental health problems will have exacerbation of symptoms, increased hospitalizations, and variations in BMI compared to the previous one. period. pre-pandemic period.

Systematic review on Covid-19 and ED analyzed 53 studies

The search was performed on the following databases: CINAHL, Embase, Medline, and PsycINFO, including studies from November 2019 to October 20, 2021.

The following inclusion criteria were considered: studies in subjects with ED (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, other specified eating disorders, binge eating disorder, restrictive avoidant eating disorder); with original data on the covid-19 pandemic and AT; qualitative, quantitative, case series, cross-sectional and longitudinal; written in any language; done with people of all ages.

Fifty-three studies were included in the systematic review, and there were a total of 36,485 people with ED. These:

  • 3,223 had anorexia nervosa;
  • 1,203 bulimia nervosa;
  • 722 binge eating disorder;
  • 1,243 other specified eating disorders;
  • 126 avoidant restrictive eating disorder;
  • 47 purgative disorders;
  • 25 night eating syndrome.

The average age of people with AD is 24.22 years and the rate of women with this health problem is 90.3%.

Study shows 48% increase in hospital admissions for post-pandemic emergency

Eleven studies compared the differences in hospitalizations for AT before and during the pandemic. Percentage changes ranged from 0% to 123%. However, on average, there was a 48% increase in hospital admissions for AT. In absolute numbers, there were 591 admissions before the pandemic and 876 post-pandemic.

While an 83% increase is observed in pediatric hospitalizations, this increase is 16% in adults. However, these data have likely been underestimated, as some studies have evaluated hospitalizations shortly after social isolation, for example, two months, which were too few to accurately assess hospitalizations.

In this review, 36% (19) of studies documented increases in ED symptoms during the pandemic, and 15% (eight studies) showed changes in BMI and weight. In addition, nine studies showed an increase in anxiety and eight in depression.

Concerning social isolation measures, mixed results were found, with some patients experiencing worsening and difficulty accessing healthcare and others reporting improvement.

For example, one study showed that some participants got better and others got worse during isolation. In the other two studies, patients with anorexia nervosa had fewer symptoms and gradually gained weight, and those with bulimia nervosa had fewer binge-eating episodes during this time.

Qualitative research showed positive and negative elements of covid-19 pandemic for AT

The fourteen articles analyzed were qualitative or mixed research. Eleven of these 14 studies reported reduced access to healthcare or a change in treatment. It has been observed that emergency service treatment is shortened or delayed or patients encounter obstacles in seeking health care.

In some studies, people with ED reported positive perceptions of telehealth or remote therapy, while others acknowledged limitations, including technical problems or stress in monitoring their own weight.

Four studies viewed media messages as a contributing factor to worsening ED symptoms. Some showed that social and traditional media focused their information on fear of weight gain, physical activity, healthy eating and diets during the pandemic, stress, and factors identified as triggers.

Social isolation, along with feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, were cited by participants in seven studies as contributing factors to worsening ED symptoms.

Despite the overall negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, seven more studies showed positive results. Some patients reported that social isolation measures throughout the pandemic allowed them to use their free time for self-care, self-reflection, protection from previous triggers, and increased social support.

Study is limited but provides useful information on AT and covid-19

The authors of the article warn that there are several important limitations to consider when interpreting the results of the systematic review. For example, they feel that the quality of the included studies is not very good and has many heterogeneous features, which makes it difficult or precludes statistical analysis of some points.

In any event, these results illustrate gaps in current research and can contribute to the development of interventions that try to prevent or treat EDs in the best possible way, and can also provide health services and public authorities with useful information to prepare themselves. . for future pandemics or similar moments.

EDs are growing, complex, and delicate mental health problems, and it’s crucial to prevent them, treat them appropriately, and be prepared for situations that can worsen them.

So, if food has been a source of suffering for you, don’t hesitate to consult expert professionals who can help you take care of your physical and mental health, which includes developing a peaceful relationship with food and your body.

Sophie Deram

Leave a Comment