I read a new word yesterday: drunkorexia. Science Daily reports that the media has coined this term to "describe the combination of disordered eating and heavy alcohol consumption."


Here's how drunkorexia manifests itself. Teens and young adults plan on drinking, but they don't want to gain weight from the alcohol. To counterbalance those calories, they save their calories for drinking, giving up food for the booze.


In addition to saving calories, the practice also allows them to get drunk more quickly (alcohol on an empty stomach absorbs more quickly into the bloodstream). There's also the money factor. They may not have enough money for both food and alcohol, so they skip eating to pay for the drinks.


What are the risks of drunkorexia? There's quite a scary list.


  • Drunkorexia can put people at risk for developing more serious eating disorders or addiction problems.
  • It can cause short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions.
  • There are also risks for violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, substance abuse and chronic diseases later in life.

And the risks are greater for females than they are for males because "women are at higher risk for health problems related to binge drinking because they metabolize alcohol differently than men. This means women can get sick faster and suffer damage to vital organs sooner than men might."


This is just one more reason it's important for us to teach our children and young adults about healthy eating. If they understand the importance that the nutrients from real, whole foods have instead of just believing they need calories from anything with calories, it might make a difference. I'm not naive enough to think that educating kids in nutrition will stop them from drinking, but it might get them to think twice before engaging in the specific behavior that has become known as drunkorexia.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

What is drunkorexia?
Two common teen and young adult problems combine to make one new problem.