Men and women report feelings of negative body image linked to Covid-19 related stress

Spending more time on screens during lockdown has promoted negative body image in men and women, according to a study by Anglia Ruskin University.

The study was published in the science journal Personality and Individual Differences in October 2020 and surveyed 506 UK residents about their experiences during the first lockdown.

Professor Viren Swami, of Anglia Ruskin University, who led the study said: “Under lockdown, we were much more likely to spend time on our screens watching TV or on Instagram and the message there again is about appearance and whether you look perfect.”

Typically, he said, men and women experiencing negative body image were dissatisfied with how they looked and wanted to conform to traditional feminine or masculine body types. 

For example, women expressed a desire to be thinner, and men wanted to appear more muscular. 

Swami said: “I think they [the findings] worry me in a general sense because negative body image is one of the strongest predictors of disordered eating.

“Negative body image is also associated with poor psychological wellbeing in general.” 

The study involved men and women, aged 18 to 73 years old from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. 


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