We’ve been busy this semester! The pandemic has brought new challenges, but our team has worked hard to examine a plethora of COVID-19 surveys and interviews in order to shed light on the unique challenges faced by persons struggling with disordered eating.

COVID-19 and Eating Disorders Study

The Living FREE Lab is excited to collaborate with the UNC Center for Excellence in Eating Disorders (https://www.med.unc.edu/psych/eatingdisorders/) to analyze how COVID-19 has impacted eating disorders. Researchers from Chapel Hill, Sweden, and the Netherlands have collected baseline, monthly, and 1-year follow-up qualitative data on persons who have self-reported eating disorders. Approximately 500 people from the US and 500 from the Netherlands have been surveyed regarding positive changes they experienced due to COVID, and potential needs or concerns regarding their eating disorders (cite paper). Our team has coded the free-text responses, and in doing so, learned about different themes that folks have been facing in light of the pandemic. With 1-year follow-up data coming in May, we’re looking forward to having a year-long screenshot of how this pandemic has impacted people with eating disorders so we can analyze responses and shed light on overarching concerns. Specifically, we examine trends in eating disorder treatment and how the pandemic has impacted symptoms of disordered eating, and positive changes noted include associated with COVID-19 (e.g., more time to cook at home, more time with loved ones). While this unique situation has caused much distress for so many, we believe this research will be beneficial for future research to prevent and treat eating disorders.

SNAP Participants and Binge Eating Study

On a more local scale, we have been conducting qualitative semi-structured interviews with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in North Carolina to examine their experiences with binge eating. Participants who use SNAP benefits, have a BMI greater than 25, and report binge eating episodes were invited to participate. food insecurity may increase the risk of disordered eating, specifically symptoms of binge eating disorder (Hazzard et al., 2020). Our team looks forward to further analyzing common issues faced by SNAP users and increasing awareness on their experiences with disordered eating.

Social Media

Finally, we’ve upped our social media game! If you haven’t checked out our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook pages, you can find us using: @livingfreelab. We encourage you to check out our pages to find research content, news from the lab, some important themes from Dr. Goode’s manuscripts, and much more. You can also check out our Instagram posts introducing new lab members, as we are so excited to have new members on the team this semester: Dani Coan and Shepard Williamson. You can read more about them in our “Meet Us” section on the blog, and on our Instagram. We look forward to connecting with you.

Hazzard, V. M., Loth, K. A., Hooper, L., & Becker, C. B. (2020). Food Insecurity and Eating Disorders: A Review of Emerging Evidence. Eating Disorders, 22(74). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-020-01200-0.

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