It is pretty common to hear stories of college students drinking alcohol in social situations, such as parties, but is it possible that students could be binge drinking as a way to shed pounds?
There is a trend on the rise called “drunkorexia”, and it is a newly coined term that refers to mixing alcohol with bulimic and/or anorexic practices. According to The New York Times, most drunkorexics tend to be college-aged females.
The idea behind this trend is that a person with an eating disorder, such as bulimia or anorexia, would consume their calories through alcohol instead of solid food.
Aquil Meeks, study coordinator for college studies at the Howard University Collaborative Alcohol Research Center, noted that in the case of drunkorexia victims, “the alcohol would be used to induce vomiting.”
Biological Psychiatry, the Society of Biological Psychiatry’s official journal, published a study in 2007 which showed that a third of bulimics and a fourth of anorexics struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.
In a New York Times interview, Dr. Douglas Bunnell, the director of outpatient clinical services for The Renfrew Center, pointed out that the obsession for thinness combined with the social acceptance associated with binge drinking is a reason that drunkorexic behavior is glorified and reinforced. “Binge drinking is almost cool and hip, and losing weight and being thin is a cultural imperative for young women in America,” he said. “Mixing both is not surprising.”
ABC News interviewed a graduate from the University of Texas named Savannah who takes part in this behavior. She said that with the encouragement of her sorority sisters, it was fairly easy for her to abstain from eating when it came time for her to go out and party. “I do know a lot of people who skip meals to drink, drink heavily, and don’t gain any weight,” the recent graduate explained. “Obviously their success in this way encourages others to try it.”
Savannah also added that she would have only one medium-sized meal during the day, exercise instead of eating and occasionally vomit before going out.
According to the Alice! Health Promotion Program at Columbia University, alcohol and weight loss do not mix. When people drink alcohol, it goes straight to their liver to be absorbed. Instead of the liver processing the fats that people get from eating food, it processes the calories that come from the alcohol first. Because these food calories are not being burned, they are being stored as fat.
Also, LIVESTRONG, an organization which inspires and empowers people affected by cancer, reports that alcohol is packed with empty calories and has no nutritional value.
Howard sophomore sociology major Jenelle Addtunji thinks is strongly against these practices.
“I just think it is sad that people have to resort to such things to fit the mold for what people deem as pretty.”