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A Dangerous Trio: Skipping Dinner, Binge Drinking and Overeating

In today’s culture, binge drinking is becoming more and more prevalent. This is especially true on college campuses, where a lot of partying takes place and many students spend their nights at clubs and bars, rather than in the dorm studying.

Today, however, the phenomenon of foregoing dinner for alcohol is an increasingly troublesome problem, as people seek out a faster buzz on an empty stomach.

Drinking and Overeating

Binge drinking without eating carries some dangerous and decidedly unhealthy consequences. One of those consequences comes in the form of overeating. It’s not uncommon for people to stumble in the door at 3 a.m. and quickly raid the kitchen, sitting down to three bowls of cinnamon flavored cereal and a couple leftover burritos.

A new study published in the Obesity Journal explains the nature behind these dangerous “binge drink, then overeat” behaviors.

Researchers at the Indiana School of Medicine found that consuming an apertif – an alcoholic drink before a meal – stimulates appetite and heightens activity throughout brain regions that mediate reward and regulate feeding behavior.

The result, in most cases, is increased consumption. In fact, two-thirds of the study group went on to eat more – most of them significantly more – after they being administered an alcoholic solution tailored specifically to produce a buzz. When buzzed, 100 percent of the participants consumed more food than when given a placebo saline solution alone.

Although researchers admit that some of the data obtained is conflicting, the overall results indicate there is a link between skipping meals, binge drinking and weight gain.

“Given the rise in reported alcohol consumption in the United States, overeating following alcohol consumption may contribute to weight gain and significant health-related consequences,” the study’s leader wrote.

The Drunkorexia Trend


Another concerning issue is that unintended weight gain could lead to the development of an eating disorder at some point, such as bulimia. In fact, college students all over the country have come forward to warn others about picking up these dangerous drinking and eating habits. As starvation mixed with binge drinking became more common trend on campus, the act earned itself a dubious name: Drunkorexia.

Drunkorexia is often described as a hybrid between eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) and alcoholism. Most people tend to binge only at night…first on alcohol, then food. With an empty stomach, however, there is nothing to absorb the onslaught of alcohol, allowing it to quickly build up in the bloodstream and often leading to fatal or near-fatal episodes of alcohol poisoning.

“The original concept was when women and girls, or anyone, don’t eat all day and then they drink all night,” says Dr. Kevin Wandler.

“A lot of the patients I see binge drink and have eight to 10 alcoholic beverages at night over only a few hours. But when you have a patient who has a drinking problem on top of an eating problem, that’s a double whammy.”
Additional Reading: 7 Tips to Boost Liver Health After Quitting Alcohol

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