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Pandemic Triggered Uptick in Eating Disorders, Experts Say

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Monday, July 12, 2021   

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Experts say they're seeing an uptick in eating disorders fueled by social media consumption and more than a year of increased stress and isolation for many individuals.

Catherine Stutzner, a therapist specializing in eating disorders at Positive Therapy in Nashville, teaches body-positive workshops for people wanting to learn how to foster a positive body image and intuitive eating.

She said eating disorders can be triggered by anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and even by traumatic experiences.

"What happened with the pandemic, is you've got all these social media things, where everybody has to go on a diet, everyone should get fit, everybody should be a certain body size or body type," Stutzner outlined. "Then, that increases eating disorders and increases body dysmorphia."

With summer's arrival, many Tennesseans are rededicating themselves to fitness. Stutzner advised being in tune with and listening to your body, eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're full, and avoiding dieting.

Dani Dyer, a personal trainer and healthy lifestyle coach in Nashville, believes in starting each morning with positive affirmations, and encourages her clients to think outside the box when it comes to increasing movement throughout the day.

"Do I have time to maybe walk around the neighborhood?" Dyer suggested. "Do I have time to potentially walk to work? What is something where I could get out in the sunshine, I could move, that's going to help me also be stress-free before I start my day?"

Dr. Donna O'Shea, chief medical officer of population health with United Healthcare, said it's important to re-establish routines that include the basics: good nutrition, exercise, and sufficient sleep. She added nationwide, many individuals are struggling with their relationship to food in response to the coronavirus crisis.

"We see both ends of the spectrum," O'Shea explained. "People who had excess snacking. But we also see that in others the same kind of stress caused them to not eat and to really put their health at risk."

She also pointed to UnitedHealthcare's "Step Up" campaign, where anyone can sign up to pledge to make their health a priority. For more information, visit UHCStepUp.com.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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