Starve-and-binge drinking puts student health at risk

by | Sep 24, 2012 | News

By Meagan Malloch

Young adults restrict what they eat and replace missed calories with alcohol. PHOTO BY MEAGAN MALLOCH

Calorie conscience women worried about gaining weight from binge drinking, restrict the amount of food they eat during the day in order to consume more alcohol at night.

Many young adults are putting their health at risk by participating in an alternative form of binge drinking known as ‘drunkorexia.’

Clinical psychology student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Daniella Sieukaran was the first to study the long-term connection between dieting and heavy drinking with young adults.

“I wanted to know the effects of dieting and heavy drinking over time,”  Sieukaran told Humber News.

The ‘drunkorexia’ phenomenon surfaced a few years ago and Sieukaran’s research found that the dangerous combination of dieting and heavy drinking is most common in post secondary students, with the majority of those students being female.

According to an article written on Mail Online, U.S. researchers found that 16 per cent of students surveyed reported “restricting calories to ‘save them’ for drinking. But the practice is three times more common among women than men, with women reporting they want to lose weight and spend less money getting drunk.”

Sieukaran surveyed 227 students between the ages of 17 to 21 and  found  the combination of dieting and alcohol abuse can lead to greater alcohol-associated behaviours.

“We found that individuals are also likely to have unprotected sex and alcohol overdose,” said Sieukaran

‘Drunkorexia’ is not classified as an eating disorder but research did find that it could link to substance abuse and other forms of eating disorders like bulimia.

“They are weighing their calories and balancing it with alcohol,” said Sieukaran. “With the other types of disordered eating, there was actually a decrease in those types of behaviours. So there is a real connection between dieting and heavy drinking.”

Eating before and even while drinking is important for one’s health, and responsible drinking is something Health Canada advises that it is important not to drink with and empty stomach.

Victoria Dew, an early childhood education student at Guelph-Humber said eating before drinking is important for her.

“I don’t want to get alcohol poisoning, and I want to be able to enjoy myself and not be throwing up all the time,” said Dew. “There is more talk surrounding females with stuff like eating disorders so it makes sense to have this common in girls.”