Mixing dieting, binge drinking dangerous: Study
(Carmine Marinelli/QMI Agency)
As students get ready to head off to college and university a new study is warning them of the dangers of drunkorexia.
Cutting food calories so they can booze it up later can lead to risky behaviours such as having unprotected sex while drunk and overdosing on alcohol and ending up in the hospital, the study of 227 students attending Toronto's York University found.
"Even if you're skipping a meal a day, you're at risk," said Simon Fraser University grad student Daniella Sieukaran, who surveyed the students at the beginning and end of a four-month period.
"The risk increases with the more dieting and drinking you're engaging in."
Women more than men and those aged 19 and over — the legal drinking age in Ontario — were more likely to admit to being drunkorexics on the anonymous surveys, said Sieukaran, who's originally from Toronto and is studying clinical psychology at SFU.
While students didn't say why they thought it was OK to mix binge drinking and dieting, Sieukaran theorizes our "weight obsessed" society, government health warnings about the North American obesity epidemic and dissatisfaction with body image put a pocket of drinkers more at risk for the disorder.
"When students hear the message to cut calories, they think they can do it and drink but they're not making the connection that it's not healthy."
The diet-now-to-get-drunk-later-and-not-gain-weight phenomenon has been around since the late 1990s but the term drunkorexia was only coined two years ago.
College and university administrators need to take note of the disorder and create awareness campaigns so young adults can be more educated either through pamphlets or one-on-one counselling, Sieukaran said.
The study was presented at the Canadian Psychological Association's 73rd annual convention in Halifax.