Young women skip meals so they can save calories for drinking
Experts found one in four female students reduce what they eat to 'make room' for alcohol calories Dangerous behaviour can lead to organ damage and long-term cognitive problems
Young women are putting their health at risk by cutting calories from food in order to binge drink, experts have warned.
The phenomenon known as ‘drunkorexia’ is most common among university students faced with the conflicting pressures of heavy drinking and staying slim.
Knowing they are going to have to drink to fit in but not wanting to put on any weight, they will skip meals before a night of heavy drinking.
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Dangerous trend: The behaviour known as 'drunkorexia' mainly affects weight-conscious teenage girls who skip meals so that they can consume more alcohol (posed by models)
U.S. researchers at the University of
Missouri who questioned college student found 16 per cent of those
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.
Victoria Osborne, assistant professor
of social work and public health said the practice was a toxic
combination causing physical and mental damage and putting women at risk
She said: ‘Apart from each other
depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and consuming large amounts of
alcohol can be dangerous.
THE LINK BETWEEN BINGE DRINKING AND EATING DISORDERS
A 'drunkorexic' is someone who skips meals so they can binge drink without putting on weight and affects mainly young women.
Although alcohol itself doesn’t actually contain fat, it is packed with calories.
A previous report published in the American journal Biological Psychiatry found that up to a third of bulimics struggle with alcohol or drug abuse.
Dieticians coined the term 'drunkorexia' because they believe, based on their work with clients, that there is a link between binge drinking and eating disorders.
‘Together, they can cause short- and
long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating,
studying and making decisions.’
She added that women metabolise
alcohol in a different way to men which makes them more susceptible to
damage to their vital organs.
Combining starvation and binge
drinking puts young women at risk of developing more serious eating
disorders or alcohol abuse problems, as well as in danger of alcohol
poisoning, risky sexual behaviour and chronic diseases in later life,
the researchers said.
The problem has been documented in
American universities but it is feared to be becoming worse in Britain
with young women feeling pressure to drink heavily yet stay slim.
However lack of food in their system
ensures they get drunk quicker and raises the risk of them passing out
with all the dangers that entails.
Denying themselves two biscuits would
allow them to drink three vodka and diet colas without fear of putting
on weight, while skipping the 700 calories of spaghetti bolognese gives
them the freedom to indulge in four or five alcopops.
More than a million Britons suffer
from eating disorders, with women between 14 and 25 at greatest risk. In
serious cases they can be fatal.
Calorie counting: Denying themselves two biscuits, left, would allow women to quaff up to three vodka and colas without putting on weight. (Posed by model)
Recent studies have shown links
between eating disorders and alcohol abuse, with up to a third of
bulimics struggling with alcohol or drugs and 36 per cent of women
receiving treatment for alcohol abuse also confessing to eating
Susan Ringwood, Chief Executive of the
charity B-eat, formerly the Eating Disorders Association said: ‘We know
that some people with eating disorders, especially bulimia nervosa can
also have an unhealthy consumption of alcohol.
‘This study does point out the serious
effects on our brains of excessive drinking, and too many people are
unaware of the high calorie content of alcohol- sometimes feeling that
it ‘doesn’t count’ as calorie intake.’
‘We also know how important it is that
all eating disorders are taken seriously – they can be deadly, and
claim more lives than any other mental illness.’
VIDEO: See what a daily diet is like for a 'drunkorexia' from This Morning on ITV…