The latest worrying trend among young people is a phenomenon called "drunkorexia," which describes the practice of skipping meals to instead binge drink. A British study found that the trend is has become "prolific" among younger folks, reported the U.K.'s the Independent Tuesday.
A National Health Report by Benenden, a healthcare company, found that the habit is especially prevalent among young men. Forty-three percent of 18-24 year old men chose alcohol over food, the report found, compared to 35 percent among women in the same age bracket. A full 40 percent of 25 to 34 year olds said they have skipped a meal in favor of drinking alcoholic beverages later in the day.
Dr. John Giles, medical director at Benenden, said basic information about diet and well-being "is not getting through to the public," despite significant spending, according to the Independent. "Despite drinking less, many young people are seemingly [favoring] alcohol consumption over a healthy, balanced diet," Giles said.
Previous findings had suggested that so-called "drunkorexia" was more of a problem for women. Alcohol-awareness group Drinkaware has noted it was a particular problem for young women who were weight conscious.
"There’s huge pressure on women to drink and look thin," said Louise Noble, chief dietitian at the Berkshire Healthcare Trust, on the group's website. "It means they’re often missing out on important nutrition, so they can get drunk with their mates. In my experience, many young women will find the only way they can cope with both is to drink rather than eat, to substitute alcohol for food."
The Beneden study, which polled 4,000 men and women in June and July, found that across all age groups the two sexes engaged in so-called "drunkorexic" behavior at a similar rate. Nineteen percent of women skipped meals to drink, compared to 17 percent for men.
Elaine Hindal, chief executive of Drinkaware, told the Independent that "drunkorexic" behavior can become a dangerous habit and that "skipping meals can cause acute alcohol poisoning, leading to confusion, vomiting, and passing out."
"Doing this regularly can put you at risk of chronic health harms like liver, heart disease, and some types of cancer," Hindal said.
This type of worrying behavior among young folks isn't limited to the U.K. It's a problem in the United States as well. According to a study by University of Houston researchers that surveyed 1,184 college students about their habits in the three months leading up to questioning, 80 percent of respondents said they had engaged in at least one risky eating behavior the same day they drank heavily.
"College students appear to engage in these behaviors to increase alcohol effects or reduce alcohol-related calories by engaging in bulimic-type or diet/exercising/calorie/restricted eating behaviors," Dipali V. Rinker, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Houston, in a press release.