New Trend on Campus? ’Drunkorexia’

What the heck is “drunkorexia?” That’s when you cut down on food calories and replace them with alcohol, a practice that some college students engage in, according to the Denver Post.

Experts don’t like the term “drunkorexia” much, but seem resigned to it: Dr. Kenneth L. Weiner, who directs Denver’s Eating Recovery Center, said, “The term ’drunkorexia’ is not my favorite, but as it brings awareness to the problem, it’s probably fine.”

And Emily Hedstrom-Lieser, of the University of Northern Colorado’s Drug, Alcohol & Tobacco Education Office, said, “It’s a sensationalized term, but it’s a tangible idea for students.”

Sensational or not, it’s difficult to say how many students are affected — the Post doesn’t give statistics — but apparently, there are enough for health educators to have picked up on the behavior.

Pam McCracken, communications director at the Colorado State University Health Network, speaks to a lot of students about their alcohol habits. “They will think, ’I’m drinking, therefore I don’t want to eat so much, so I’m going to have a mixed green salad and a Diet Coke,’” she said. “I say, ’Look, the day that you’re consuming alcohol is not the day to cut back on your calories.’”

But, ’drunkorexia’ is not the same thing as anorexia nervosa. As Weiner said, “Anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness. It’s an incredibly serious disorder.”

The two are not mutually exclusive, either. In fact, 2009 research in the International Journal of Eating Disorders showed that college-age women who were at risk for developing eating disorders did a lot of binge drinking.

As if binge drinking weren’t dangerous enough already.

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