COVID-19 Weight Discourse & College Students

I evaluated the impact of COVID 19 pandemic lockdowns on college students’ perceptions of weight gain, fatness, and the “COVID 15” rhetoric.

Impact of Study

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced significant disruptions into the lives of many individuals, particularly among college-aged people in the United States. This research sheds light on the profound impact of negative discourse related to weight gain and fatness during lockdowns, highlighting the need for increased awareness and intervention in promoting healthier body image perceptions. The findings from this study offer valuable insights that can guide future research, emphasizing the importance of examining the complex interplay between social media, body image, and mental health during times of crisis.

Research Design Problem and My Approach

Research Design Problem

The research sought to address the following problem: How have college-aged individuals in the U.S. been affected by the discourse surrounding fatness, weight gain, and the “COVID-15” during the pandemic, and have they experienced disordered eating as a result? The study aimed to explore the intricacies of this issue and understand the factors contributing to changes in body image among this demographic.


To tackle this problem, I designed an online survey using Google Forms, targeting individuals aged 18-35. The survey incorporated a mix of qualitative open-answer questions and quantitative inquiries to gather comprehensive data. I also ensured the age eligibility of respondents and recruited a sample of 31 participants. By employing a structured approach, I aimed to capture a holistic view of the experiences and perspectives of college-aged individuals during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Research Process

  • Survey Development: I crafted a comprehensive survey with a balanced mix of open-ended and quantitative questions. This survey was designed to elicit responses regarding awareness of the COVID-15 concept, exposure to negative discourse, and experiences with disordered eating.
  • Participant Recruitment: I utilized social media platforms, specifically targeting college-aged individuals, and obtained a sample size of 31 respondents.
  • Data Collection: Participants completed the survey, providing insights into their experiences during the pandemic.
  • Data Analysis: I meticulously analyzed the responses to identify trends, patterns, and key themes related to body image, weight gain discourse, and disordered eating.

Artifacts Produced Along the Way

  • Research Survey: A well-structured survey created using Google Forms to collect data from participants.
  • Data Set: A comprehensive dataset consisting of responses from 31 participants, including both qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Data Analysis: Detailed data analysis, which included statistical insights and thematic summaries of open-ended responses.
  • Visual Aids: Various visual aids, including charts and graphs, to present the data in a clear and visually appealing manner.
  • Presentation: I presented the research findings and insights using a well-crafted visual presentation. This presentation served as a valuable tool to communicate the results to an audience, highlighting key points and facilitating discussion and understanding.



The study revealed that the majority of participants had been exposed to the concept of the COVID-15 and had encountered negative discourse related to quarantine weight gain.

Social media emerged as the primary source of this discourse, followed by family and friends. A significant proportion of respondents reported hearing such discourse multiple times per day.

Furthermore, a subset of participants disclosed experiencing disordered eating during lockdown, with some reporting improvements in their condition.

Key Learnings

This research demonstrates the substantial impact of negative weight gain discourse during the COVID-19 lockdowns on college-aged individuals’ perceptions of body image and its implications for mental health. The findings underscore the need for societal and academic attention to body stigma, particularly in the context of social media. The study also highlights the significance of understanding the complex relationship between body image, societal perceptions, and mental health during times of crisis. Future research should explore this subject more deeply and develop strategies to counteract the harmful effects of such discourse, ultimately promoting healthier body image perceptions among this demographic.

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