Eating disorders - believed to affect 1-in-7 women - combined with binge drinking are putting college-aged women at risk of cognitive problems and chronic diseases in later life, claims a new study from the University of Missouri.
"Drunkorexia," the term coined to describe the combination of disordered eating and heavy alcohol consumption, can also lead to violence and risky sex, adds University of Missouri researcher, Victoria Osborne.
Osborne's research examined the relationship between alcohol misuse and disordered eating, including calorie restriction and purging. She found that 16 percent of those surveyed reported restricting calories to "save them" for drinking. Worryingly, about three times as many women reported engaging in the behavior than men. Motivations for "drunkorexia" include preventing weight gain, getting intoxicated faster and saving money that would be spent on food to buy alcohol.
"Apart from each other, depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and consuming large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous," Osborne said.
"Together, they can cause short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions. Because women metabolize alcohol differently than men... women can get sick faster and suffer damage to vital organs sooner than men might."
"It is important that young people understand the risks of this behavior," she concluded. "We teach college students about the dangers of binge drinking, but most of them do not consider the long-term health consequences of disordered eating and heavy drinking, either alone or combined."
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Source: University of Missouri