‘Drunkorexia’ is on the rise, but don’t blame the pandemic

‘Drunkorexia’, the act of cutting back on food to offset the calories in alcohol may be on the rise, but we shouldn’t exclusively blame the pandemic.

 

 

Drunkorexia, the method of voluntarily starving oneself for the purpose of saving calories for alcoholic beverages, has reared its ugly head following the COVID-19 pandemic, especially amongst women.

A world-first empirical study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia found that 82.7 per cent of the 500 female student participants had displayed drunkorexic behaviour sometime in the past three months.

“Due to their age and stage of development, young adults are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviours, which can include drinking excess alcohol,” notes clinical psychologist and study author Alycia Powell-Jones.

“Certainly, many of us have drunk too much alcohol at some point in time, and we know just by how we feel the next day, that this is not good for us, but when nearly a third of young female uni students are intentionally cutting back on food purely to offset alcohol calories; it’s a serious health concern.”

 

Drunkorexia is not just Australia’s problem, either. Italy, the US, and France have all documented that young people, especially women, often fall victim to this type of behaviour that is largely attributed to longstanding societal pressures.

 

Drunkorexia is not just Australia’s problem, either. Italy, the US, and France have all documented that young people, especially women, often fall victim to this type of behaviour that is largely attributed to longstanding societal pressures.

It is common knowledge that cocktails, wine and beer can be packed with sugar and carbohydrates. Couple that with the fact that young women are particularly susceptible to negative body image and eating disorders, and the rationale behind drunkorexia becomes quite apparent.

“Not only may be a coping strategy to manage social anxieties through becoming accepted and fitting in with peer group or cultural expectations, but it also shows a reliance on avoidant coping strategies,” noted Powell-Jones. 

At a time when many of us are pent-up at home isolating from others, these coping strategies are especially important—Powell-Jones and her team discovered that people who engage in drunkorexic behaviour not only have poor self-control but are predisposed to experiencing emotional deprivation and social isolation.

“It is important that clinicians, educators, parents and friends are aware of the factors that motivate young women to engage in this harmful and dangerous behaviour, including cultural norms, beliefs that drive self-worth, a sense of belonging, and interpersonal connectedness,” Powell-Jones notes.

 

 

 

 

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