Binge Drinking Increases Risk of Disordered Eating: Study

Unfortunately, heavy alcohol consumption is common in many college settings. People who are indulging in more than a moderate amount of drinking (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men) may be risking their physical and mental health, according to research conducted at the University of South Australia.

The scientists looked at the way 479 female Australian university students consumed alcohol. The study participants were between 18-24 years old. Researchers were investigating whether is any scientific basis for the belief that binge drinking can lead to Drunkorexia.

Drunkorexia: Side Effect of Binge Drinking

Drunkorexia is a type of behavior where the affected person resorts to unhealthy eating patterns to offset the negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. These consequences include gaining weight.

The results were surprising:

• The majority (82.7%) of female university students who participated in the survey had displayed drunkorexia-type behaviors within the past 90 days.
• More than one-quarter of the respondents (28%) were skipping meals regularly and on purpose.
• They were also using tactics such as purging or exercising after drinking and choosing low-calorie alcoholic beverages. These strategies were being used 25% of the time or more.

Alycia Powell-Jones, a clinical psychologist and lead UnisSA researcher, stated recently that this behavior has become widespread among Australian female university students. She explained that drunkorexia is very dangerous and can put the person who engages in this type of behavior at risk for several serious health consequences, including:

• Brain damage
• Cirrhosis of the liver
• Cognitive deficits
• Depression
• Heart damage
• Memory lapses

Ms. Powell-Jones points out that many people have overindulged in alcohol at some point during their lives. It becomes apparent by the next morning that it was not a good choice. When close to one-third of young, female university students are deliberately cutting back on their food intake to offset the number of calories due to alcohol, it becomes a matter of serious health concern.

Alcohol Use Increasing in the US

In the US, alcohol use increased from 65% to 73% in the adult population in the years 2001-2013. The rate was much higher among certain demographics (women, seniors, minorities, people with lower incomes and education levels).

Approximately 15 million people in the United States are living with Alcohol Use Disorder. Approximately 5.8% of the population or 14.4 million adults had the disorder in 2018.