DrunkorexiaCollege students drinking alcohol is not news. College students bingeing on alcohol is not news.  But college students intentionally avoiding food in order to “prepare” for excessive drinking is definitely something to talk about.

It is called “Drunkorexia” and it is not necessarily new, but it has apparently greatly increased over the past few years.

However, a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism suggests that although this behavior is not new, it may be far more common than originally believed; and does not appear to discriminate against gender.  In the study 80 percent of college students reported they had recently engaged in at least one “drunkorexia”-related behavior.

Study author Dipali Rinker, who is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston, says, “College students appear to engage in these behaviours to increase alcohol effects or reduce alcohol-related calories by engaging in bulimic-type or diet/exercising/calorie-restricted eating behaviours. Our information examines the association between these different types of drunkorexic behaviours and other predictors of problem drinking among college students, such as gender differences.”

These “drunkorexia” behaviors include things like not eating before drinking, of course, as well as vomiting and taking laxatives or diuretics before/during drinking.

Aaron White is the program director of college and underage drinking prevention at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAAA).  He advises, “Long term, it’s not a good idea to skip nutritious meals in order to consume more calories from alcohol.Then there are the short-term consequences. Having food in your stomach reduces peak blood alcohol levels about a third, so if you flip that, your peak level is significantly higher, increasing risk of blackouts, injuries and poor decisions. The consequences are worse than the consequences of not saving the calories.”

He also adds that it is most often those students who drink most heavily who engage in these riskier behaviors.

White continues, “We’re not talking about someone concerned about a 150-calorie glass of wine. We’re talking about someone who is concerned about 1,000 calories from binge drinking, and that’s the person you just don’t want skipping meals.”

Shockingly, a recent NIAAA study found that one in five of all incoming female freshmen—who responded to the survey—reported engaging in drunkorexic behavior within the last two weeks.  What may be more surprising is that most said that they did not do it for dieting purposes or to save money (by getting drunk quicker, thus buying less alcohol).

No, these co-eds said, instead, they skipped meals in order to get more intoxicated