'Drunkorexia:' A recipe for disaster

October 17, 2011, University of Missouri-Columbia

It is well known that eating disorders are common among teens and college students. Heavy alcohol consumption is another well-known unhealthy habit of this age group. A new study from the University of Missouri shows that when college students combine these two unhealthy habits, their long-term health may be affected. "Drunkorexia" is a new term coined by the media to describe the combination of disordered eating and heavy alcohol consumption.

Victoria Osborne, assistant professor of social work and public health, examined the relationship between and disordered eating, including and purging. Researchers found that 16 percent of those surveyed reported restricting calories to "save them" for drinking. Of the respondents, about three times as many women reported engaging in the behavior than men. Motivations for "drunkorexia" include preventing weight gain, getting intoxicated faster and saving money that would be spent on food to buy alcohol.

According to Osborne, "drunkorexia" can have dangerous cognitive, behavioral and physical consequences. It also puts people at risk for developing more serious eating disorders or addiction problems.

"Apart from each other, depriving the brain of and consuming large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous," Osborne said. "Together, they can cause short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions."

People who participate in disordered eating combined with binge drinking are also more at risk for violence, , , substance abuse and chronic diseases later in life. Osborne says women are at higher risk for health problems related to binge drinking because they metabolize alcohol differently than men. This means women can get sick faster and suffer damage to vital organs sooner than men might.

"It is important that young people understand the risks of this behavior," Osborne said. "We teach college students about the dangers of , but most of them do not consider the long-term health consequences of disordered eating and heavy drinking, either alone or combined."

Many college campuses have alcohol education programs for students. The MU Wellness Resource Center works to educate students and prevent the misuse and abuse of alcohol. The Center's services include peer education programs that advocate the responsible use of alcohol; workshops and classes that educate students about the dangers of alcohol abuse; and CHEERS, a program that provides free non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers.

"We are aware that this is a problem on campus, and we're working to address it through research and educational programs," said Kim Dude, director of the Wellness Resource Center. "The at-risk drinking rate among our students has declined in recent years, so we know our prevention efforts are headed in the right direction."

Explore further: When the economy is down, alcohol consumption goes up

Related Stories

When the economy is down, alcohol consumption goes up

October 13, 2011
Previous studies have found that health outcomes improve during an economic downturn. Job loss means less money available for potentially unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking, according to existing literature on ...

Recommended for you

Removing sweets from checkouts linked to dramatic fall in unhealthy snack purchases

December 18, 2018
Policies aimed at removing sweets and crisps from checkouts could lead to a dramatic reduction to the amount of unhealthy food purchased to eat 'on the go' and a significant reduction in that purchased to take home, suggests ...

Junk food diet raises depression risk, researchers find

December 18, 2018
A diet of fast food, cakes and processed meat increases your risk of depression, according to researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Children of problem drinkers more likely to marry someone with a drinking problem: study

December 18, 2018
Children of parents who have alcohol use disorder are more likely to get married under the age of 25, less likely to get married later in life, and more likely to marry a person who has alcohol use disorder themselves, according ...

Folate deficiency creates hitherto unknown problems in connection with cell division

December 17, 2018
Folate deficiency creates more problems in connection with DNA replication than researchers had hitherto assumed, researchers from the University of Copenhagen show in a new study. Once a person lacks folate, the damage caused ...

A co-worker's rudeness can affect your sleep—and your partner's, study finds

December 14, 2018
Rudeness. Sarcastic comments. Demeaning language. Interrupting or talking over someone in a meeting. Workplace incivilities such as these are becoming increasingly common, and a new study from Portland State University and ...

Study shows magnesium optimizes vitamin D status

December 14, 2018
A randomized trial by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers indicates that magnesium optimizes vitamin D status, raising it in people with deficient levels and lowering it in people with high levels.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.