Researchers at the University of Missouri say that college kids, specifically young women, are skipping dinner in droves in favor of downing alcoholic drinks and getting drunk quicker. So much so, that it’s becoming an epidemic.
Those involved in the study have labeled the phenomena as “drunkorexia,” and are saying that combining binge drinking with missing meals has some dangerous long-term effects. Of the 1,000 university students surveyed in the report, however, around 25 percent of the females polled say that they regularly cut back on calories while eating in order to “save them” for booze.
An earlier study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggested that women with eating disorders were more likely to admit to alcohol abuse than bulimia or anorexia. Of 13,000 women profiled in that study, those with an alcohol problem were also more likely to develop an eating disorder as well.
Drunkorexia, adds the University of Missouri report, is also occurring in young men, but in only a fraction of the figure. Around 11 percent of males surveyed admitted to be drunkorexic.
“Apart from each other, depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and consuming large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous,” says Victoria Osborne, assistant professor of social work and public health who helped put together the research. She adds that by combining the two practices together, young people are developing cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions.
And, of course, they are getting really, really drunk — all the while slimming down and saving a few bucks.
Even if binge drinking is all too often synonymous with college life, Osborne says that when coupled with calorie-cutting, the results can be fatal. “It is important that young people understand the risks of this behavior,” she writes. The study adds that “people who participate in disordered eating combined with binge drinking are also more at risk for violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, substance abuse and chronic diseases later in life.”