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Specialist reports increase in eating disorders during pandemic

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 7:44 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The COVID-19 pandemic not only drove up feelings of isolation among some people, one local specialist says it also contributed to eating disorders.

According to a recent Associated Press report, the pandemic fueled a surge in eating disorders in teens and adults.

Keena Reddin-Kennedy, a licensed certified social worker and founder of the Center for Eating Disorders and Behavioral Wellness in Jonesboro, said Wednesday she has seen a major increase in patients, and a lot of them have been young adults.

She has seen around a 40 percent increase in patients over the past year.

The pandemic has a lot to do with this rise she said because of the increased isolation.

“It’s driven by different feelings, thoughts, and emotions,” Reddin-Kennedy said. “When those are increased the urges to act on the eating disorder are consequently increased.”

She is the only specialist in the area, so she serves a wide range of patients.

Treatment for an eating disorder is more than just therapy, she said it also involves health and confidence.

“When I get a patient in and we kind of get the food going the way it needs to be, the next thing we need to work on is that body image and body acceptance,” said Reddin-Kennedy.

She said a few signs parents can look for include a drastic increase or decrease in weight, not eating meals, or even going to the bathroom a lot.

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