Eating disorders on the rise during the pandemic

Children most affected by change in routines
Posted at 4:49 AM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 07:55:21-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Doctors are worried about a growing health crisis.

They are finding the number of people affected by an eating disorder is rising, brought on by stress and anxiety surrounding the pandemic, which just entered its thirteenth month.

Dr. Valerie McClain, a clinical psychiatrist, says eating orders are affecting both men and woman, but especially children.

"I think it's a way of dealing with stress from the unpredictability that the children have gone through," says Dr. McClain. "Let's face it, their whole routine has changed."

She encourages parents and other adults in their lives to stop and focus and be supportive.

"Just say, how are you? Also, if food is being taken into their rooms and hidden, if you find hidden food, encourage them that you don't care how much they eat that they can eat in public," says Dr. McClain.

When it comes to adults, we often joke about the "pandemic 15 or 20," referring to the extra weight a lot of us have put on.

But for some, the extra pounds are no joking matter.

"I think people feel out of control. If they're gaining a lot of weight or they're losing a lot of weight, it throws them into a spiral of depression and anxiety because they can't fit into their clothes," says Dr. McClain. "Socially they haven't been out in a while and now they're coming out and they've gained 30 pounds."

She says always remember, you are not alone. And it is okay to ask for help.

"It's hard not to feel alone because everybody was pretty isolated, but the reality is, we're not alone and for everybody who's going through this type of addictive process, there are other people out there suffering, too," says Dr. McClain. "Reaching out for help is a way of helping other people get that help, too. So don't deprive the other person of the chance to help."

Free help and resources is just one phone call away.

Call or text the National Eating Disorders Association at (800) 931-2237 or visit