Last week, Denver Post columnist Kirsten Browning-Blas wrote an article on “drunkorexia,” a term used to describe restricting food intake so that more alcohol can be consumed without gaining weight. This article has been widely reprinted and discussed in the media and as part of college activities this week.
The term “drunkorexia” was coined by popular media in 2008. The relationship between disordered eating practices such as restricting food intake, overexercising, or vomiting after consuming alcohol and heavy drinking has been discussed in the media and on-line for years.
For women, the effects of not eating prior to alcohol consumption is especially concerning as women are at increased risk of experiencing serious consequences due to biological differences between the sexes. As women generally weigh less, have less alcohol-metabolizing enzymes, and have less total body water to dilute alcohol in the bloodstream, they are more vulnerable to developing cirrhosis, brain damage and other health conditions related to alcohol misuse.
Canadian data suggests that almost 1/3 of students report heavy drinking (2004 Canadian Campus Survey) and that 1.5% of Canadian women ages 15-24 have an eating disorder (2002 Public Health Agency of Canada).
‘Drunkorexia’ a growing trend among college students (Kristen Browning-Blas The Denver Post, October 19, 2010)
Drunkorexia: Alcohol Mixes With Eating Disorders: Blogs, Friends Fuel Dangerous Trend on College Campuses (ABC News, October 21, 2010)
Burke, S.C., Cremeens, J., Vail-Smith, K., Woolsey, C. (2010). Drunkorexia: Calorie Restriction Prior to Alcohol Consumption Among College Freshman. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 54(2): 17-34.
Khaylis, A., Trockel, M. and Taylor, C. B. (2009). Binge drinking in women at risk for developing eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 42: 409–414. doi: 10.1002/eat.20644
Poole, N., Greaves, L. (editors). (2007). Highs & Lows: Canadian Perspectives on Women and Substance Use. Toronto: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.