Anyone who chooses to knock back a a few glasses of wine or half a dozen cocktails in lieu of dinner may not be an alcoholic. They could just be trying to lose weight. That’s according to a new–and pretty disturbing–trend emerging among young women who engage in what’s called drunkorexia. Essentially, this is the latest way to control their weight by skipping food so they can get drunk without all the extra calories.
According to a new study from the University of Missouri, up to 16% of college students–and three times as many females versus males–are mixing disordered eating with binge drinking in an effort to restrict calories on food and “save them” for drinking. In addition to wanting to prevent weight gain, apparently women like being able to get drunk faster and save money that would otherwise be spent on food so they can buy more alcohol. Because, you know, food is such a waste of money.
Victoria Osborne, assistant professor of social work and public health, explained the obvious dangers of all of this:
Apart from each other, depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and consuming large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous. Together, they can cause short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions.
As if that’s not enough, women who practice drunkorexia are at a higher risk for violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, substance abuse and chronic diseases later in life. It’s also worth reminding ourselves that we metabolize alcohol differently than men, meaning, we are likely to make blubbering idiots out of ourselves faster, get sick faster and suffer damage to vital organs sooner than men. All this for the sake of saving calories from eating?
One such self-proclaimed drunkorexic, Savannah, a 22-year-old University of Texas graduate from Houston, told ABCNews.com that abstaining from food was easy, as long as her friends were doing it too:
I’ve always watched my weight and skipped meals to account for the high calorie count of alcohol. It was just something I always did while in college as a normal part of my diet so that I could stay skinny but still go out and drink.
Savannah said she and her friends would also engage in other unhealthy behaviors in order to maintain their weight including working out late at night instead of eating, having one medium meal during the day, in some cases throwing up before going out.
I’ve done [drunkorexia] for years and I’m still healthy. And I’m skinny. That’s the best of both worlds to me, so it’s not likely that I’ll stop doing it any time soon.
Hopefully these college students will soon realize that the starve-drunk-starve-drunk cycle does not cure anything–even a negative body image. Sacrificing food for alcohol is just ludicrous. And it surely has to kill any chances of them getting a decent GPA.