Over the past few years there has been an increase in the rate of eating disorder cases among college students. Eating disorders, which typically begin between age 18 and age 21 have risen 10 to 20 percent in females and 4 to 10 percent in males. College students are susceptible to eating disorders as their new-found freedom living away from home often leads to an active party lifestyle, societal pressures to fit in, and the added academic pressures of college.
As demonstrated by the well-known “freshmen 15” (gaining 15 pounds in the first year of college), healthy meals give way to late night pizza and frozen microwaved something in a box that somewhat resembles food; not to mention the boat-load of calories from all that alcohol being consumed. A problem needing a remedy.
Now, take that problem and add into the equation the pressure from peers and advertisers, Hollywood, and the media to be unrealistically thin and you have a student in a state of panic about gaining weight.
The popular solution: drunkorexia. In order to maintain their buff physics and Twiggy-esque figures, college students are ‘saving’ calories during the day by skipping meals so they can ‘spend’ those calories consuming alcohol at parties at night. They gain the benefit of not gaining weight, saving face by following the party crowd, and feeling the effects of the alcohol much quicker by drinking on an empty stomach. Male students often turn to excessive exercising as well to counter the alcoholic calories consumed the night before.
The Problematic Solution
Drunkorexia does not come without consequences. Psychology Today reports drunkorexia produces an increase in the possibility of developing alcohol-related medical conditions in later years such as
- liver disease
Disordered eating mixed with binge drinking is the perfect storm for disaster. Yet this popular college custom is not looked upon as a negative but as a positive; a quicker buzz, drink as often as they want, and stay skinny regardless – the most important goal.
During a 2010 interview with ABC News, focusing on drunkorexia, a 22 year old graduate from the University of Texas stated, “I’ve always watched my weight and skipped meals to account for the high calorie count of alcohol, it was just something I always did while in college as a normal part of my diet so that I could stay skinny but still go out and drink.” During Savannah’s four years in college, and at her mother’s “suggestion”, she attended eating disorder counseling for anorexia. Yet she says, “I’ve done (drunkorexia) for years and I’m still healthy. And I’m skinny. That’s the best of both worlds to me, so it’s not likely that I’ll stop doing it anytime soon.”
Drunkorexia has no boundaries and does not exist only on the grounds of college campuses. Men and women of all ages are known also participate in this form of dieting.