Background: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, current epidemiological conditions may exacerbate the risk of new-onset, recurrence and relapse of eating disorders. This perspective aims to better analyse the phenomenon.
Results: Some data suggest that new-onset and recurrence/relapse of eating disorders are increasing due to the pandemic. Government restrictions, self-confinement, social isolation, restriction to healthcare facilities access, delayed access to diagnosis and cure, fear of contagion, distress and difficulties related to the telemedicine approach contribute to this burden. The Immune system dysfunction usually observed in undernourishment (e.g., anorexia nervosa) could delay the diagnosis of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, and predispose to possible bacterial superinfections. Conversely, patients with binge eating, obesity or metabolic syndrome are susceptible to high-grade systemic inflammation and poor prognosis once the infection has occurred.
Discussion: More detailed data combining research on eating disorders and COVID-19 are required despite some evidence. Many data show that telemedicine has beneficial aspects, but its impact on long-term mental health is still poorly understood. Short- and long-term consequences of COVID-19 in patients with eating disorders are unknown, but they will likely become more apparent over time.
Conclusion: Working on emotion regulating strategies in a post-pandemic world, when people have inadequate control over the background of negative emotions, could be a future treatment strategy. Long-term studies with a larger sample size are essential to assess the long-term consequences of the blockade on patients and their healthcare providers and identify useful strategies to improve clinical management.
Keywords: Sars-cov-2, COVID-19, pandemic, eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, obesity.