Aucoin P, Gardam O, St John E, Kokenberg-Gallant L, Corbeil S, Smith J, Guimond FA. (2022). COVID-19-related anxiety and trauma symptoms predict decreases in body image satisfaction in children. Child Psychiatry & Human Development. 1–12.
The present study investigated short-term longitudinal effects of COVID-19-related trauma and separation, social, and generalized anxiety symptoms on children’s body image satisfaction. Participants were 247 Canadian children (121 boys, 123 girls) aged between 7 and 12 years (M = 9.04). Two cohorts of parents were recruited to complete a questionnaire at two time points on their children’s body image satisfaction and COVID-19-related trauma and anxiety symptoms. The first cohort (n = 136 children) was recruited in Summer 2020 and the second cohort (n = 111 children) was recruited in Winter 2021. For each cohort, follow-up surveys were completed approximately five months later, therefore covering an entire year with both cohorts. Multilevel regression analyses showed that children’s trauma and anxiety at Time 1 predicted significant decreases in body image satisfaction at Time 2. Older children were especially at risk of decreased body image satisfaction as a result of their COVID-19-related trauma, social anxiety and generalized anxiety symptoms. Younger girls were susceptible to decreased body image satisfaction as a result of their separation anxiety symptoms. Given that children’s body image dissatisfaction is a precursor to the development of eating disorders, these findings shed light on potential targets for early intervention with children who are at-risk of developing such difficulties.