CLEVELAND, Ohio - More college students are skipping meals or vomiting so they can drink more without gaining weight or get intoxicated more quickly - a practice called "drunkorexia."
More than 80 percent of 1,184 college students surveyed said they had engaged in at least one behavior in the last three months that researchers considered to be related to drunkorexia.
The students, most of them from the University of Houston, had drunk heavily at least once in the past 30 days, Inside Higher Ed reported. Their behaviors included inducing vomiting, consuming laxatives or diuretics, or not eating anything before drinking.
What does the study say?
The study, presented last month at the Research of Society on Alcoholism's annual meeting, highlighted the practice of combining unhealthy practices of eating disorders and binge drinking, researchers said.
"Students who engage in compensatory dieting/exercise behaviors before, during, or after a drinking event to either increase the effects of alcohol or reduce alcohol calories by either engaging in bulimic-type or extreme dieting, exercise, or restrictive behaviors -- such as skipping meals -- are putting themselves at risk for serious negative consequences related to alcohol use," Dipali Rinker, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston, said in a summary of the study.
Students need to stay hydrated and not drink on an empty stomach, Rinker said.
Who engages in drunkorexia?
Students who lived in fraternity and sorority houses were the most likely to report engaging in the behavior and women were more likely to engage in bulimic-type behaviors than men, Inside Higher Ed reported.
What is drunkorexia?
"Drunkorexia" was coined about five years ago, according to a 2011 study by the University of Missouri-Columbia.
"Although not a medical term or diagnosis, 'drunkorexia' refers to someone who restricts their food intake throughout the day or week in order to save their calories for alcohol and avoid gaining weight," Janele Bayless, wellness coordinator for nutrition education for students at Ohio State University, wrote in an article on substance abuse.
What are the problems with drunkorexia?
Students whose calories come from alcohol instead of food can have nutritional deficiencies, researchers said.
"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," Aaron White, the program director of college and underage drinking prevention at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told Inside Higher Ed. "The consequences are worse than the consequences of not saving the calories."
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