The impact of COVID-19 on eating and exercise behaviours

Posted 25/08/2020


The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of the physical, social, and psychological consequences of COVID-19 on exercise, body image and eating behaviours. It is open to all adults, with and without an eating disorder, who are 18 years and older, living in the UK.

Author: Dr Helen Sharpe, Eating Disorder and Behaviour Research Group, the University of Edinburgh.

What is the purpose of the research?

We are now recruiting our second wave of this study exploring the impact of easing of lockdown measures within the UK.

COVID-19 presents a rapidly evolving situation that has caused major disruptions to people’s daily routines and social lives. It is unclear what the impact of COVID-19 has been on people’s mental health and wellbeing or whether some people are more resilient in the face of these challenges. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of the physical, social, and psychological consequences of COVID-19 on the exercise, body image and eating behaviours of adults in the UK.

Who can take part?

Anyone who is at least 18 years old and living in the UK can take part. You can take part whether or not you have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

What does the study involve?

If you decide to participate in the study, you will be asked to fill out an online survey that will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. We will ask you to fill in this survey now and repeat the survey every two months and twice more once COVID related social restrictions have been fully lifted. We will ask for an email address so that we can invite you to these future surveys. These surveys will help us understand how the experience in lockdown changes over time and how things change when some of the restrictions are lifted. If you miss a survey you can still complete the next one, or you can choose to stop at any time.

You will be asked questions about yourself (e.g., age, gender, etc.), your health and wellbeing (e.g., anxiety, coping strategies, etc.), your eating and exercise behaviours (including disordered eating symptoms), and questions specifically related to your experience with COVID-19 social distancing measures (e.g., if/how it has impacted your eating behaviours). If you are currently receiving treatment for an eating disorder, you will also be asked about how the COVID-19 social distancing measures have affected your treatment (if at all). You will also be asked about your current weight and height. You can skip any questions that you do not feel comfortable answering, but the portions of your survey that you do complete will be used in analyses unless you withdraw from the study. You will not receive any form of compensation for taking part in this study.

How can someone take part?

If you would like to take part, please click here.