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Key Challenges: Risk Factors

Issues Examples
Food access
  • Scarcity, reduced access to food/specific foods, higher eating related guilt, food abundance due to reduced grocery trips
Media and media messaging
  • Increased consumption of media coverage and social media due to reduced human/social interaction
  • Distressing coverage, negative framing of Covid-19-specific weight changes, so-called ‘Quarantine-15’ (gaining 15 pounds)
  • An intense focus on weight status as being a determining factor in Covid-19 hospitalisation, ventilator usage – negative framing as potential for instigating risky behaviours (restriction and weight control methods)
Exercise difficulties
  • Limited opportunities and social exercise, low availability of facilities for physical activity – those with existing weight and shape concerns may be at risk of greater distress
  • Lack of availability of exercise opportunities such as compulsive exercise to manage negative feelings may propel individuals towards other risky coping strategies (more purging, more caloric restriction)
  • Exercise withdrawal symptoms, more restrained eating due to limited daily exercise (compensatory behaviour)
Restricted access to healthcare
  • Heightened demand on existing health systems during the pandemic, reduced treatment
  • Limitations involved in telehealth monitoring (weight changes, vitals, physiological checks)

Source: Cooper et al 2020