Background: In this study, we further explore the role of COVID-19 pandemic-related stress, social support, and resilience on self-reported eating disorder symptoms (using the EDE-QS) and perceived weight gain among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ+ adults) in the US context during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: Employing a convergent mixed method design, we surveyed 411 individuals, and conducted qualitative semi-structured follow-up interviews with 43 LGBTQ+ -identifying survey respondents. Using OLS regression and multinomial logistic regression, we modeled eating disorder symptoms and perceived weight gain among LGBTQ+ individuals (n = 120) and cisgender and heterosexual-identifying women (n = 230), to cisgender and heterosexual-identifying men (n = 61). We also explored complementary interview narratives among LGBTQ+ people by employing selective coding strategies.
Results: Study results suggest that LGBTQ+ individuals are likely experiencing uniquely high levels of pandemic-related stress, and secondly, that pandemic-related stress is associated with elevated eating disorder symptoms and higher risk of perceived weight gain. Nearly 1 in 3 participants reported eating disorder symptoms of potentially clinical significance. Social support, but not resilient coping, was found to be protective against increased eating disorder symptoms. Qualitative analyses revealed that LGBTQ+ individuals situated physical exercise constraints, challenging eating patterns, and weight concerns within their pandemic experiences.
Conclusions: Clinicians of diverse specialties should screen for eating disorder symptoms and actively engage patients in conversations about their COVID-19-related weight gain and eating behaviors, particularly with LGBTQ+ -identifying adults.
Tabler, J., Schmitz, R. M., Charak, R., & Dickinson, E. (2021). Perceived weight gain and eating disorder symptoms among LGBTQ+ adults during the COVID-19 pandemic: a convergent mixed-method study. Journal of eating disorders, 9(1), 115. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-021-00470-0
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Journal of eating disorders