Drunkorexia is a term to describe how some people – often university students – avoid food in favor of alcohol. They’re counting calories to maintain weight, but in the wrong way.
Skipping meals before binge drinking can have a dangerous impact on health. Although alcohol contains calories, they’re generally empty calories which don’t provide nutritional value. Drinking on an empty stomach can make a person drunk more quickly. It can also lead to massive problems later in life such as ulcers, liver damage, and cancer.
It’s becoming more prolific among both men and women. A 2016 study from the UK found that 40% of 25 to 34-year-olds skip food to “save the calories for drinking.” 43 percent of men and 35 percent of women have fallen victim to this behavior.
41 percent of the subjects said they ate healthy to look good, not necessarily to be healthy themselves. A South Australian study of 136 women between the ages of 18 and 25 had similar results. The study, also for 2016, found that over half of the women frequently engaged in extreme weight control behaviors. 37.5 percent skipped meals before an event which involved drinking.
At one point Drunkorexia was thought to be a myth, based purely on anecdotal evidence. Two contributing factors are thought to be body image issues and peer pressure to drink large amounts of alcohol.
Eating disorders used to be primarily attributed to women, but men are a fast-growing high-risk group too. A 2011 study of the United States estimated that 30 million people suffer from – or have suffered from – a clinically significant eating disorder, including 20 million women.
The numbers have risen over the years. Over a third of men and women reportedly worry about their appearance more than they do about their health, family, relationships, or professional success.