The indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health are of increasing concern.
Perceived stress can lead to binge eating and weight gain. Researchers want to learn more
about the relationship between eating behavior and the pandemic.
To study how the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting eating behaviors and weight.
English-speaking adults ages 18 and older who have access to a computer or smartphone
connected to the internet.
This is an online study. Participants will answer surveys through the study website.
Participants will complete a one-time survey. It will ask about their experiences throughout
the COVID-19 pandemic, their socioeconomic standing, their mental and physical health, and
their eating habits. They will have the option to repeat the survey once a month for the next
12 months. This will show changes in their thoughts and behaviors over time. They will
provide their email address to get survey links.
Participants will also have the option to complete a 2-minute survey on their smartphone.
They will complete the survey daily for 7 days in a row. It will ask about their stress and
eating behavior in real time, in their home environment. They will provide their phone number
to get survey links via text message.
If a participant has taken part in a previous NIH study on the Phoenix AZ campus, they will
be asked to share their first and last name, date of birth, and email address. This
information will be used to connect data from this study to their past data.
Participation is typically 25 minutes but may last up to 1 year.
***To participate in this study go to the REDCap study link:
This study will determine whether electrical stimulation of an area of the brain called the
dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is important in determining the feeling of fullness
after eating, affects how much food a person eats and weight loss over 4 weeks. It will also
compare weight changes in people who attend weight loss counseling sessions and those who do
not over this period of time.
Obese, non-diabetic people between 18 and 60 years of age who are in good health and who live
in the Phoenix, AZ, metropolitan area are eligible for this study. Candidates must have a
body mass index of 35 kg/m(2) or more and weigh less than 350 pounds.
Participants are admitted to the NIH inpatient unit in Phoenix for the first 9 days of the
study for tests, which include meal tests to determine eating behaviors and caloric intake,
blood and urine tests, glucose tolerance test, weight measurement, psychological assessments
and DEXA scan to measure body fat. For 3 of the days, they will be asked to eat all of their
food from automated vending machines. Some subjects receive transcranial direct current
stimulation (TDCS). For this procedure, electrodes that conduct electricity are placed on the
head and arm and the current is turned on for 40 minutes. Some tingling may be felt under the
electrodes. Other subjects receive sham TDCS, with the current turned on only very briefly.
After the evaluations, subjects are discharged home from the NIH unit and instructed to eat
25 percent fewer calories than they consumed while on a weight maintenance diet the first 3
days of their inpatient stay. They maintain the lower calorie diet at home for 4 weeks.
During this period they come to the NIH unit 3 days a week to receive either real or sham