Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A mixed-studies systematic review of the experiences of body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic

Schneider, Kat; Pegram, Georgina; Gibson, Benjamin; Talamonti, Deborah; Tinoco, Aline; Craddock, Nadia; Matheson, Emily; Forshaw, Mark

A mixed-studies systematic review of the experiences of body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic Thumbnail


Kat Schneider

Benjamin Gibson

Deborah Talamonti

Aline Tinoco

Nadia Craddock

Profile Image

Dr Emily Matheson
Senior Research Fellow (Centre for Appearance Research)

Mark Forshaw


Objectives: This systematic review assessed the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on body image, disordered eating (DE), and eating disorder outcomes. Methods: After registration on PROSPERO, a search was conducted for papers published between December 1, 2019 and August 1, 2021, using the databases PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, CINAHL Plus, AMED, MEDLINE, ERIC, EMBASE, Wiley, and ProQuest (dissertations and theses). Results: Data from 75 qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies were synthesized using a convergent integrated approach and presented narratively within four themes: (1) disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) variability in the improvement or exacerbation of symptoms; (3) factors associated with body image and DE outcomes; (4) unique challenges for marginalized and underrepresented groups. Disruptions due to the pandemic included social and functional restrictions. Although most studies reported a worsening of concerns, some participants also reported symptom improvement or no change as a result of the pandemic. Factors associated with worse outcomes included psychological, individual, social, and eating disorder-related variables. Individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ reported unique concerns during COVID-19. Discussion: There is large variability in individuals' responses to COVID-19 and limited research exploring the effect of the pandemic on body image, DE, and eating disorder outcomes using longitudinal and experimental study designs. In addition, further research is required to investigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on body image and eating concerns among minoritized, racialized, underrepresented, or otherwise marginalized participants. Based on the findings of this review, we make recommendations for individuals, researchers, clinicians, and public health messaging. Public Significance: This review of 75 studies highlights the widespread negative impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions have had on body image and disordered eating outcomes. It also identifies considerable variations in both the improvement and exacerbation of said outcomes that individuals, researchers, clinicians, and other public health professionals should be mindful of if we are to ensure that vulnerable people get the tailored support they require.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Mar 5, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 23, 2022
Publication Date 2023-01
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 25, 2022
Journal International Journal of Eating Disorders
Print ISSN 0276-3478
Electronic ISSN 1098-108X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 56
Issue 1
Pages 26-67
Series Title Special Issue: Special Issue on COVID-19 Research in the Field of Eating Disorders
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations