The current pandemic, coupled with lockdowns, produces anxiety. And many people fight anxiety by eating, especially foods high in fat or sugar .
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, wanted to see if college-age people also overeat in these uncertain times. Women were more likely to engage in these behaviors .
Greater frustrated social affiliation
Young adults may be particularly susceptible to pandemic-related mental health problems, in part due to a heightened level of interest in social affiliations .
The scientists used data from an ongoing study that included participants’ weights in October 2018 and 2019, and then again in May and July 2020. The researchers found that nearly half of the 1,820 students who were surveyed used food to cope with the pandemic.
About 48% of study participants reported one or more unhealthy eating behaviors . The use of food to cope with the pandemic was also associated with weight gain, especially for young adults with a higher starting weight.
Not only were women more likely to engage in these behaviors, people who previously had higher depression were more likely to engage in these behaviors .