Medical Focus: Eating disorders and the pandemic


JOPLIN, Mo. — A survey by the American Psychological Association reports 61 percent of adults have gained weight since the start of the pandemic, often an extra 15 to 30 pounds.

“It’s been a perfect storm for people with eating disorders,” said Dr. Jenny Copeland, Clinical Psychologist.

A worldwide pandemic with issues ranging from isolation to shortages of critical supplies.

“Especially in the beginning. Those food runs and not being able to predict what food was there. Their safe foods weren’t there, they never knew what they were going to be able to find and it just was, it was the perfect setup for it,” said Dr. Copeland.

Making life harder both patients struggling with eating disorders, and others looking for ways to cope.

“So it doesn’t have to be a bad thing — it’s a perfectly normal way to be able to cope. Like normal eating is very flexible, and so sometimes that means we eat emotionally to cope. Sometimes that means that we’re going to eat beyond the point of fullness. It can be a lot of different things. The real problem is the shame and judgment that comes afterwards,” said Dr. Copeland.

Dr. Jenny Copeland says not to judge yourself too harshly.

“The dream is going to be, you know, eating when you’re hungry and stop being one more full,” said Dr. Copeland.

And even more importantly, finding ways to deal with the stress that’s causing it all.

“Not the ways that we tried to cope with it but what the problem is in the first place. That means finding a wide range of ways to cope with your emotions, talking to people, connecting with people, therapy, finding ways to deal with that and having a lot of tools to rely on to be able to do that,” said Dr. Copeland.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories