Coping as a mediator and moderator between psychological distress and disordered eating behaviors and weight changes during the COVID-19 pandemic

Bárbara Cesar Machado*, Célia S. Moreira, Marta Correia, Elisa Veiga, Sónia Gonçalves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads

Abstract

Previous research has already shown the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on college students’ well-being and mental health. Eating problems and weight gain due to changes in eating habits and physical activity experienced during this period have also been noticed. However, few studies have explored the role of students’ resources as used during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as coping strategies. This study aimed to (1) explore the associations among psychological distress, disordered eating, coping strategies, and weight changes; (2) examine the moderating role of coping strategies in the process of weight gain and weight loss; and (3) study the mediating role of coping strategies in the process of weight gain and weight loss. The participants in this study were 772 students at a Portuguese university. The data collected included sociodemographic data and three self-reported questionnaires (Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale; Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire; Brief COPE) during the first few months of the pandemic, which included a 72-day full national lockdown. The results showed that depression, anxiety, stress, and disordered eating were related to increased weight. Guilt, denial, self-distraction, use of substances, and behavior disinvestment were also related to increased weight. Behavioral disinvestment had a strong mediating effect on weight gain. Additionally, planning, positive reframing, and acceptance all showed a moderating effect between psychological distress and weight changes. In conclusion, coping strategies allow for a better understanding of the mechanisms by which psychological distress and disordered eating were related to weight changes during the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2504
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Coping
  • Disordered eating
  • Psychological distress
  • Weight changes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Coping as a mediator and moderator between psychological distress and disordered eating behaviors and weight changes during the COVID-19 pandemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this