The impact of COVID-19 on body-dissatisfied female university students

Yuan Zhou, Tracey D. Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study investigated the impact of COVID-19 on young women's disordered eating and their responses to online interventions to reduce disordered eating. Method: University students at risk of developing an eating disorder (N = 100) were randomly assigned to either receiving an online intervention to reduce disordered eating or not. Forty-one participants entered the study from September 2019 to March 2020 (pre-COVID) and 59 after physical distancing was introduced due to COVID pandemic (during COVID). Online assessments were conducted at baseline and 1-week follow up. Results: There was a significant increase in weight concerns, disordered eating, and negative affect among participants entering the trial during COVID compared to pre-COVID. The increases in the first two variables remained when adjusting for baseline negative affect. No significant interactions between time, condition and COVID status were observed. Discussion: Young women experienced increased levels of disordered eating after the onset of COVID. While no interactions with COVID were detected, changes to within-group effect sizes for disordered eating more than doubled for both online interventions and assessment from pre-COVID to during COVID, suggesting any attention to issues related to disordered eating in the context of reduced social contact may be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Early online date13 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Apr 2021


  • body dissatisfaction
  • COVID-19
  • disordered eating
  • self-compassion

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of COVID-19 on body-dissatisfied female university students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this