“Drunkorexia” is a disorder with a funny name, but the deadly results are no laughing matter.
“Drunkorexia” is a new term for an eating disorder in which people save up their calories throughout the day to spend on alcohol. Similar to anorexia where sufferers of the disorder restrict their calories to create extreme weight loss.
A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported “the mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.”
Binge drinking and eating disorders are commonly concurrent disorders within college students, occurring in up to 41 percent of sufferers of the disorder, according to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Jennifer Lombardi is the executive director of Summit Eating Disorders and Outreach Program, a Sacramento-based eating disorder treatment program that sometimes works closely with Sacramento State and its students.
As a graduate of Sac State, Lombardi has observed many cases of eating disorders and binge drinking both on and off campus.
“”Drunkorexia” is something I’ve seen over the years,” Lombardi said. “(“Drunkorexia” is) one of those things for college students that is definitely part of an eating disorder. A “drunkorexic” is someone who engages in restricting behaviors over the day to save up their calories to engage in binge drinking.”
Lombardi said binge drinking while already malnourished and dehydrated is a recipe for disaster.
“I definitely think that you have a situation where people go away to school for the first time (and) there’s a sense of freedom and (a) need to belong or fit in. Drinking goes hand in hand with college campuses. (Due to) the fear of the “Freshman 15” they may start to resort to extreme measures to fit in,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi said the concept of the Freshman 15 is a myth. A 2011 Ohio State University study of 7,000 college students found that only one to three pounds were gained on average by freshman.
“Unfortunately, in our culture, we perpetuate this myth that creates a lot of fear,” Lombardi said.
Popular media, such as MTV’s Jersey Shore, glamorizes binge drinking and reinforces the importance of body consciousness. A Craigslist casting call ad posted in January by MTV is on the prowl to document those suffering from “drunkorexia” on their documentary show “True Life”.
The ad said: “Do you regularly skip meals so that you can save your calories for nights of binge drinking? Are you concerned about your weight, but not willing to give up partying to live a healthy lifestyle? Do you frequently black out or get into dangerous situations because of it?”
“When you don’t see the downsides in popular media, it only fuels the fire for these behaviors,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi will be speaking in the University Union Feb. 28 as part of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.