Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Drunkorexia: Calorie Restriction Prior to Alcohol Consumption among College Freshman

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Drunkorexia: Calorie Restriction Prior to Alcohol Consumption among College Freshman

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Using a sample of 692 freshmen at a southeastern university, this study examined caloric restriction among students prior to planned alcohol consumption. Participants were surveyed for self-reported alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and caloric intake habits prior to drinking episodes. Results indicated that 99 of 695 (14%) of first year students reported restricting calories prior to drinking, with 6% reporting this behavior to avoid weight gain and 10% to enhance alcohols effects; no significant differences were found between males and females. Based on the study findings, practical campus-based and student-centered education and prevention strategies are presented to explore solutions to reduce drunkorexia. Effective evidence-based behavior change brief interventions such as Motivational Interviewing and the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program are presented and discussed.

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The misuse of alcohol and disordered eating are both major concerns on college campuses nationwide. Several studies have examined alcohol use among college students. In 2002, O'Malley and Johnston reviewed findings from several national data sets that examined alcohol use among college students including the College Alcohol Study, the Core Institute, Monitoring the Future, and the National College Health Risk Behavior Survey. Results of these national surveys are consistent, indicating that approximately 70% of college students report using alcohol in the past month, and about 40% report binge drinking (defined as 4 drinks for women and 5 for men in one sitting). In 2008, more than three-fourths of college students reported alcohol use in the past month (American College Health Association). Despite increased education and prevention efforts over the past 15 years, the misuse of alcohol does not appear to have changed much. In 2001, Hingson, Heeren, Zakocs, Kopstein, and Wechsler found that the frequency of binge drinking among college students had remained the same since 1993. Despite increased efforts to prevent alcohol misuse among college students, the prevalence of binge drinking remained fairly stable between 1993 and 2001, and the prevalence of frequent binge drinking (3 or more times in the past two weeks) increased from 19.7% to 22.8% (Wechsler, Lee, Kuo, Seibring, Nelson, & Lee, 2002). Additionally, the percentage of students that reported drinking on 10 or more occasions in the past 30 days increased 18.1% to 22.6%, and students who reported being drunk three or more times in the past 30 days increased 23.4% to 29.4%. To reach these conclusions about alcohol consumption patterns, Wechsler et al. (2002) examined four waves of data from the 1993, 1997, 1999, and 2001 College Alcohol Study. Compiled together, these studies indicate that the majority of college students use alcohol, and a large number (nearly half) participate in binge drinking episodes. Additionally, results suggest that students who are binge drinkers binge more frequently today than in the past (Ford, 2007).

Many college students engage in binge drinking and it appears that the majority of alcohol consumed is done so by students who engage in this behavior (Wechsler, Molnar, Davenport, & Baer, 1999). The College Alcohol Study (CAS) conducted at Harvard University found that "frequent binge drinkers," defined as those who engaged in binge drinking on three or more occasions in the past two weeks, constituted only 19% of the sample but consumed 68% of the 87,008 total drinks (Wechsler et al., 1999). In this study, frequent binge drinkers also consumed an average of 17.9 drinks in a week. In comparison, infrequent binge drinkers, defined as those who engage in binge drinking no more than two times in the past 2 weeks, comprised 24% of the sample and only consumed 23% of the total alcohol, averaging 4.8 drinks a week. This study is just one of many that demonstrates the ubiquitous nature of excessive alcohol consumption on college campuses. …

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