The Perfect Enemy | Your Health: Increase in teen binge eating after COVID-19 - WILX
September 15, 2023

Your Health: Increase in teen binge eating after COVID-19 – WILX

Your Health: Increase in teen binge eating after COVID-19  WILX

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) – Eating disorders increased in teens and young adults during the pandemic. Some studies say the rates of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder were up by 15%.

Despite life returning somewhat to normal – researchers say binge eating is still a problem for teens.

An extreme obsession with weight and body image. Eating disorders, especially binge eating, increased among young people during COVID-19 lockdowns and it’s not getting better.

“It’s been stressful for kids to go back to school. They’re in a different setting,” said Janet Lydecker, a clinical psychologist at Yale School of Medicine. “They’ve missed a year, sometimes two years, of being in person with their peers, and that’s stressful.”

During a binge, teens consume large amounts of food in a short period of time, as many as one to two thousand calories in one or two hours. The binge is usually followed by feelings of extreme shame or guilt.

Lydecker says parents can watch for signs of secretive eating.

“It can be finding wrappers and evidence that the kid has maybe gone to a convenience store and picked up a bunch of snacks on their own,” Lydecker said. “Going to a fast-food restaurant, but then eating in the parking lot or going to the convenience store, but eating on the way home.”

Teens may have a sudden change in foods they like to eat or avoid family meals altogether. Lydecker says parents should be supportive and look for professional help.

“We want to catch eating disorders as young as possible and as quickly after they emerge as possible,” she said.

Lydecker says cognitive behavior therapy is effective in helping teens regain healthy eating habits.

People who need additional support or information can text or call the National Eating Disorder Hotline at (800) 931-2237 or visit

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