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Body Weight and Food/Eating-Related Behaviours during COVID-19 Pandemic, Traumatic or Stressful Life Events

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Nutrition and Public Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 13893

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Chair, Department of Psychology, Neapolis University Pafos, 2 Danais Avenue, Paphos 8042, Cyprus
Interests: eating disorders; body image; visible differences; body positivity interventions; applied psychology; cross-cultural psychology

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Guest Editor
Chair & Lead Researcher in Psychiatry, Mental Health Services and Psychotherapy, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano Bicocca, 20900 Monza, Italy
Interests: eating disorders; personality disorders; anxiety; depression; trials; psychotherapy; clinical psychology; virtual reality; assessment; nosology; aetiology; longitudinal research; risk factors; prevention; evidence-based therapy; experimental psychiatry; trauma; neuroscience; body image; weight; adolescence; DSM; fasting-act antidepressants; treatment-resistance; mental health; e-health
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Perceived stress and daily negative life events can promote, among others, unhealthy changes in eating behaviours and have consequences on body shape and weight. Additionally, traumatic experiences can negatively impact people’s mental health and increase the risk for potentially fatal and costly mental disorders such as eating disorders, which substantially impair physical health and disrupt psychosocial functioning.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impaired the mental health of the population globally, there still is a lack of in-depth knowledge regarding its impact on both, body weight/shape and food/eating-related behaviours and amongst people with or at-risk for obesity and eating disorders.

In this Special Issue of the journal Nutrients (Impact Factor: 6.706), we encourage the submission of papers (particularly original contributions and reviews) informing the literature on all aspects of the impacts that stressful, traumatic, and other extraordinary events (like the COVID-19 pandemic) may have on body weight and food/eating-related behaviours, as well as on people with obesity and eating disorders, their physical and mental health and experience of treatment.  

Dr. Marios Argyrides
Prof. Dr. Antonios Dakanalis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nutrients is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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13 pages, 614 KiB  
Article
The Association between Lifestyle Factors and COVID-19: Findings from Qatar Biobank
by Zoha Akbar, Hasna H. Kunhipurayil, Jessica Saliba, Jamil Ahmad, Layla Al-Mansoori, Hebah A. Al-Khatib, Asmaa A. Al Thani, Zumin Shi and Abdullah A. Shaito
Nutrients 2024, 16(7), 1037; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16071037 - 03 Apr 2024
Viewed by 738
Abstract
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) manifestations range from mild to severe life-threatening symptoms, including death. COVID-19 susceptibility has been associated with various factors, but studies in Qatar are limited. The objective of this study was to investigate the correlation between COVID-19 susceptibility and various [...] Read more.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) manifestations range from mild to severe life-threatening symptoms, including death. COVID-19 susceptibility has been associated with various factors, but studies in Qatar are limited. The objective of this study was to investigate the correlation between COVID-19 susceptibility and various sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, including age, gender, body mass index, smoking status, education level, dietary patterns, supplement usage, physical activity, a history of bariatric surgery, diabetes, and hypertension. We utilized logistic regression to analyze these associations, using the data of 10,000 adult participants, aged from 18 to 79, from Qatar Biobank. In total, 10.5% (n = 1045) of the participants had COVID-19. Compared to non-smokers, current and ex-smokers had lower odds of having COVID-19 (odds ratio [OR] = 0.55; 95% CI: 0.44–0.68 and OR = 0.70; 95% CI: 0.57–0.86, respectively). Vitamin D supplement use was associated with an 18% reduction in the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 (OR = 0.82; 95% CI: 0.69–0.97). Obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), a history of bariatric surgery, and higher adherence to the modern dietary pattern—characterized by the consumption of foods high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates—were positively associated with COVID-19. Our findings indicate that adopting a healthy lifestyle may be helpful in the prevention of COVID-19 infection. Full article
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14 pages, 295 KiB  
Article
How COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions Affected Kuwaiti College Students’ Anthropometry, Lifestyle Behaviors, and Dietary Habits
by Ahmad R. Al-Haifi, Nayef Y. Bumaryoum, Balqees A. Al-Awadhi, Fahad A. Alammar, Bader N. Alkhalaf and Hazzaa M. Al-Hazzaa
Nutrients 2023, 15(22), 4773; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15224773 - 13 Nov 2023
Viewed by 835
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures implemented to control it have led to widespread lifestyle changes globally. While previous studies have explored these effects across different age groups, this research focuses uniquely on college students in Kuwait. A cross-sectional study (N = 1259) [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures implemented to control it have led to widespread lifestyle changes globally. While previous studies have explored these effects across different age groups, this research focuses uniquely on college students in Kuwait. A cross-sectional study (N = 1259) was conducted among college students using a validated online questionnaire covering various aspects, including demographics, academic performance, self-reported body weight and height, sleep duration, dietary habits, and physical activity. There were equal proportions of individuals reporting decreased, increased, or no change in body weight, BMI, and dietary habits due to COVID-19, with no significant gender differences observed. A higher decrease (44.3%) than increase (29.2%) occurred due to COVID-19 in the proportion of college students engaging in physical activity. Significant differences were found in the students’ responses to most of the eating behavior questions, concerning the changes attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Multivariable analysis showed significant interaction effects for gender by losing above 9 kg during the last 6 months in age (p = 0.037), total physical activity in METs-min/week (p = 0.048), and cake/donuts intake (p = 0.006). Logistic regression analysis, adjusted for age, revealed that a decrease in BMI was associated with an increase in daily vegetable intake (aOR = 1.531, p = 0.031), whereas increases in BMI were associated with an increased intake of sugar-sweetened drinks equal to or above 4 days/week (aOR = 1.551, p = 0.032) and increased chocolates/candy intake equal to or above 4 days/week (aOR = 1.792, p = 0.037). It was concluded that, in response to a major epidemic, such as COVID-19, college students, as a population, are susceptible to significant changes in lifestyle and eating behaviors that can impact their health and well-being. Future risks for college students’ health can be reduced through appropriate lifestyle interventions. Full article
15 pages, 859 KiB  
Article
Stress during Home Confinement Is Associated with Eating Misalignment among Adults during COVID-19 Lockdown
by Abeer M. Aljaadi, Rinal J. Bogis, Nouf A. Alruhili, Saja O. Alharbi and Essra A. Noorwali
Nutrients 2023, 15(18), 4018; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15184018 - 16 Sep 2023
Viewed by 945
Abstract
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic forced Saudi Arabia to implement several measures including mandatory home confinement, banning entry to many cities, and suspending religious activities. Studies have reported inconsistent findings of the effect of home confinement on lifestyle factors. This study aims to assess [...] Read more.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic forced Saudi Arabia to implement several measures including mandatory home confinement, banning entry to many cities, and suspending religious activities. Studies have reported inconsistent findings of the effect of home confinement on lifestyle factors. This study aims to assess the psychological impact of COVID-19 during home confinement and explore its association with dietary habits and weight change. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among Saudi adults using an online survey between May and June 2020. Data on dietary habits, sleep quality, and stress were collected. Results: A total of n = 503 participants responded. Of 254 analyzed, 87% were females, 49% were overweight/obese (body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2), and 79% were under lockdown for >40 days. In multiple linear regression, higher stress scores during confinement were associated with higher stress scores before confinement and poorer sleep quality. In multiple logistic regression, those who did not eat at the same time had higher stress scores compared to those who always ate at the same time, whereas consuming ≥three meals was associated with lower stress scores than consuming one–two meals. The odds of gaining weight during confinement were higher among married adults, those with lower sleep quality, and consuming ≥three meals. Conclusions: Stress during home confinement was associated with eating misalignment and the number of meals consumed. Although this study was limited by its cross-sectional design and reliance on self-reported data, it provides valuable insights into the dietary habits and weight-gain associated factors that need to be further explored and addressed in any future restrictions for improved well-being. Full article
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14 pages, 3134 KiB  
Article
Community Women’s Lifestyle and Eating Disorders in the Era of COVID-19 Pandemic: A 15-Year Follow-Up Study
by Nasim Foroughi, Phillipa Hay and Haider Mannan
Nutrients 2023, 15(7), 1676; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15071676 - 30 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1321
Abstract
Most studies suggest that COVID-19 has adversely affected the quality of life and mental health, including eating disorders. However, studies have yet to examine longitudinally the impact of COVID-19 on eating disorder symptomatic individuals. This study aims to examine longitudinally the impact of [...] Read more.
Most studies suggest that COVID-19 has adversely affected the quality of life and mental health, including eating disorders. However, studies have yet to examine longitudinally the impact of COVID-19 on eating disorder symptomatic individuals. This study aims to examine longitudinally the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lifestyle and eating disorder symptoms of a symptomatic group of community-dwelling women. These women (n = 171) were enrolled in a longitudinal study, completed a COVID-19 modular self-report (post or Qualtrics, 2020/21), and participated in the current study. This study examined a 15th year follow-up. In 2020, 40% were tested for COVID-19. Of these, 87% had negative results; 5.3% self-isolated at home; 20.5% stopped working/studying in person; 28% continued online work/study; and 28% stopped work/studying in person. The pandemic affected sporting activities, music, and club activities (32.7% discontinued); 38% socialized in person; 16% socialized online; and 10% completely stopped socializing. Findings showed that the respondents showed no significant changes in levels of psychological distress (K10: 21.4 ± 9.8 vs. 19.0 ± 7.1, p < 0.171), and impaired quality of life (SF12: 50.9 ± 8.0 vs. 48.3 ± 9.5, p < 0.055) at 15-year follow-up. Eating disorder symptoms increased over time (EDE-Q global: 2.1 ± 1.4 vs. 2.9 ± 1.4, p < 0.013). Observed worsening of eating disorder-related symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic may be due to interrupted eating patterns, exercise restrictions and the absence of social support. Provision and access to interventions to support those affected by eating disorders are a high priority, especially during these times. Full article
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16 pages, 1236 KiB  
Article
Virtual Rejection and Overinclusion in Eating Disorders: An Experimental Investigation of the Impact on Emotions, Stress Perception, and Food Attitudes
by Paolo Meneguzzo, Valentina Meregalli, Enrico Collantoni, Valentina Cardi, Elena Tenconi and Angela Favaro
Nutrients 2023, 15(4), 1021; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15041021 - 17 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1839
Abstract
(1) Background: the investigation of how interpersonal functioning affects eating psychopathology has been receiving increasing attention in the last decade. This study evaluates the impact of virtual social inclusion or ostracism on emotions, perceived stress, eating psychopathology, and the drive to binge or [...] Read more.
(1) Background: the investigation of how interpersonal functioning affects eating psychopathology has been receiving increasing attention in the last decade. This study evaluates the impact of virtual social inclusion or ostracism on emotions, perceived stress, eating psychopathology, and the drive to binge or restrict in patients across the eating disorder spectrum. (2) Methods: a group of 122 adolescent and adult females with different eating disorder diagnoses were compared to 50 healthy peers with regards to their performance on, and responses to the Cyberball task, a virtual ball-tossing game. Each participant was randomly assigned to playing a social inclusion or a social exclusion block of the Cyberball task and completed self-report assessments of emotions, perceived stress and urge to restrict/binge before and after the task. (3) Results: patients with anorexia nervosa showed a more negative impact on psychological well-being evaluated with the need threat scale after the excluding block, while patients with bulimia nervosa reported more negative effects after the overincluding condition. Patients with binge eating disorder showed a reduction in specific negative emotions after the overincluding block, unlike all other participants. (4) Conclusions: findings show significant correlations between restraint thoughts in patients with bulimia nervosa and binge thoughts in patients with binge eating disorder after being exposed to the inclusion condition. Different reactions in cognitive and emotional states of patients with eating disorders after different interpersonal scenarios confirm the impact of inclusive or exclusive relationships on eating psychopathology, with specific and different responses across the eating disorder spectrum, that have been discussed, linked to their eating behavioral cognition. Full article
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18 pages, 350 KiB  
Article
Impact of COVID-19 Confinement on the Health-Related Habits of People at High Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
by Darío Ochoa Esteban, Carmen Martin-Ridaura, Carmen Berlinches-Zapero, Dolores Ruiz-Fernández, Vanessa Sanz-Martín, Rosario Gavira-Izquierdo, Aitana Muñoz-Haba, Sebastià March and Mercedes Ceinos-Arcones
Nutrients 2023, 15(4), 841; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15040841 - 07 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1639
Abstract
The general lockdown decreed in Spain due to the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the ALAS health promotion intervention aimed at the population at high risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes. We conducted a descriptive study in 2020 through a telephone survey and a [...] Read more.
The general lockdown decreed in Spain due to the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the ALAS health promotion intervention aimed at the population at high risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes. We conducted a descriptive study in 2020 through a telephone survey and a comparison with baseline data to determine the impact of confinement on the lifestyles of the participants. We collected sociodemographic variables and conducted assessments before/after confinement on general health status and lifestyle (sleep, physical activity and diet). Additionally, weight, BMI and adherence to a Mediterranean diet were assessed. Descriptive statistical analyses, comparisons of pre–post confinement data and logistic regression were carried out. A total of 387 individuals responded. Among them, 31.8% reported a worse perception of health after confinement, and 63,1% reported no change. Regarding exercise, 61.1% reduced their weekly physical activity time. Regarding diet, 34,4% perceived worse quality, and 53.4% reported no change, despite the fact that 89.4% declared changes in their eating practices. Weight and BMI decreased by 3,1%, and adherence to the Mediterranean diet improved from baseline. Confinement had a negative impact on the general health, diet, sleep and physical activity of this population (at risk of diabetes); however, weight and BMI decreased, and adherence to a Mediterranean diet improved. Full article
12 pages, 398 KiB  
Article
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Public Interest in the Energy Labelling on Restaurant Menus
by Areej A. Alkhaldy, Omar A. Alhumaidan, Sarah M. Alkhunein, Majid M. Alkhalaf, Khlood A. Bookari and Jamila M. Arrish
Nutrients 2023, 15(2), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15020466 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2222
Abstract
No study has investigated the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the public’s interest in using energy labelling on restaurant menus. This study explores the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the public interest in using energy labelling on restaurant menus and meal [...] Read more.
No study has investigated the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the public’s interest in using energy labelling on restaurant menus. This study explores the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the public interest in using energy labelling on restaurant menus and meal delivery applications and the impact of energy-labelling availability on food choices during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia. An online questionnaire was completed by 1657 participants aged ≥ 18 years. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 32% of customers visited a restaurant 2–4 times/week. However, during the pandemic, 35% of customers visited a restaurant only once per week. There was no difference in interest in reading energy labelling or using meal delivery applications before and during the pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, about 55% of restaurant customers reported that they had noticed energy labelling, with 42% of them being influenced by the energy-labelling information. Regarding energy information on food delivery applications, 40% of customers noticed energy labelling when using the applications, with 33% of them being affected by the energy labelling. Customer interest in reading about energy on restaurant menus during the pandemic did not change significantly from the level of interest before the pandemic. The interest expressed by the public in using the energy labelling was low both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
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Review

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23 pages, 1123 KiB  
Review
The Impact of Chronic Stress Related to COVID-19 on Eating Behaviors and the Risk of Obesity in Children and Adolescents
by Iwona Piątkowska-Chmiel, Paulina Krawiec, Karolina Joanna Ziętara, Piotr Pawłowski, Marzena Samardakiewicz, Elżbieta Pac-Kożuchowska and Mariola Herbet
Nutrients 2024, 16(1), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu16010054 - 23 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1678
Abstract
During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in the incidence of overweight and obesity in children was observed. It appears that unhealthy food choices, an unbalanced diet, and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as experiencing stress related to the pandemic, may be contributing to [...] Read more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in the incidence of overweight and obesity in children was observed. It appears that unhealthy food choices, an unbalanced diet, and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as experiencing stress related to the pandemic, may be contributing to this disturbing trend. Chronic stress is a significant factor contributing to eating disorders and obesity in youngsters, involving medical, molecular, and psychological elements. Individuals under chronic stress often focus on appearance and weight, leading to negative body image and disrupted relationships with food, resulting in unhealthy eating behaviors. Chronic stress also impacts hormonal balance, reducing the satiety hormone leptin and elevating the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, fostering increased hunger and uncontrolled snacking. Two systems, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and the sympathetic system with the adrenal medulla, are activated in response to stress, causing impaired secretion of noradrenaline and cortisol. Stress-related obesity mechanisms encompass oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, insulin resistance, and neurohormonal and neurotransmission disorders. Stress induces insulin resistance, elevating obesity risk by disrupting blood sugar regulation and fat storage. Stress also affects the gut microbiome, potentially influencing chronic inflammation and metabolic processes linked to obesity. In conclusion, chronic stress is a multifaceted risk factor for eating disorders and obesity in children, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of effective preventive and intervention strategies amid the escalating prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity. Full article
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Other

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16 pages, 485 KiB  
Systematic Review
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Binge Eating Disorder: A Systematic Review
by Alice Caldiroli, Davide La Tegola, Francesca Manzo, Alberto Scalia, Letizia Maria Affaticati, Enrico Capuzzi, Fabrizia Colmegna, Marios Argyrides, Constantinos Giaginis, Leonardo Mendolicchio, Massimiliano Buoli, Massimo Clerici and Antonios Dakanalis
Nutrients 2023, 15(17), 3777; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15173777 - 29 Aug 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1621
Abstract
The aim of this systematic review was to synthesise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on binge eating disorder (BED) the new onset and course. Inclusion criteria: original articles and BED diagnosis; and the main outcomes: relationships between the COVID-19 pandemic and the [...] Read more.
The aim of this systematic review was to synthesise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on binge eating disorder (BED) the new onset and course. Inclusion criteria: original articles and BED diagnosis; and the main outcomes: relationships between the COVID-19 pandemic and the new onset/clinical changes in BED, and specific results for BED. Exclusion criteria: mixed/inaccurate diagnoses and articles not written in English. We searched four databases and one registry until 5 May 2023. The quality appraisal was conducted using the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) tool. Twelve studies with 4326 participants were included. All studies were observational with nine cross-sectional and three longitudinal. Four of the included studies investigated new-onset BED, while eight examined the BED clinical course of patients with a previous diagnosis. With the exception of one study, the available literature indicates both an increase in BED diagnoses and a clinical worsening during COVID-19. Major limitations include study quality (weak-to-moderate) and high heterogeneity in terms of pandemic phase, population, geographical areas, and psychometric tools. Our findings indicate that BED patients are particularly vulnerable to events characterised by social distancing and over-worry, and should be, therefore, carefully monitored. Further studies are needed to corroborate our findings, implement preventive strategies, and promote personalised treatments. PROSPERO registration number: CRD42023434106 Full article
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