A systematic review of COVID-19 and the presentation of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder-like symptoms.

Publication date: Mar 04, 2024

The adverse effects of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions on eating disorder populations have been discussed in recent literature. However, little is known about the presentation of cases with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) during this period. To explore the extent of the literature on the presentation of ARFID, and ARFID-like cases, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cochrane Library, CINAHL (EBSCO), PsycINFO (EBSCO), EMBASE (Ovid) and Medline (Ovid) were searched for publications between March 2020 and May 2023. Google Scholar and reference lists were hand searched. At least two reviewers independently screened each paper. Narrative synthesis was used. Seven papers were included: four case reports and three cohort studies (total ARFID sample of 46). Included papers were assessed as having high (n = 3) or moderate (n = 4) quality. Findings did not suggest an increase in ARFID cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, although it is unclear if this is because of a lack of impact or underrecognition of ARFID. A need for a multidisciplinary approach to differentiate between ARFID and organic causes of ARFID-like presentations (e. g. gastrointestinal effects of COVID-19) was highlighted. Publications specifically pertaining to ARFID presentations during the COVID-19 pandemic have been few. Papers found have been of small sample sizes and lack subanalyses for ARFID within broader eating disorder samples. Continued surveillance is needed to evaluate any COVID-19-specific effects on the development, identification, treatment and outcomes of ARFID.

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Concepts Keywords
Food clinical presentation
Google COVID-19
Library eating disorders
Medline prevalence


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH eating disorder
disease MESH ARFID
disease IDO quality
disease VO LACK
disease MESH causes

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