Experts find that as many as one in six US college women skip meals to get drunk faster and "make room" for alcohol calories, with three times as many women reportedly engaging in what's dubbed "drunkorexia" than men.
The phenomenon affects thousands of women, according to experts, and a team from the University of Missouri in the US is now underscoring the long-term health implications.
In findings announced Monday, researchers stated that 16 percent of those surveyed reported restricting calories to "save them" for drinking. Motivations for drunkorexia include staying slim, getting intoxicated faster, and saving money that would otherwise be spent on food to buy alcohol.
This lifestyle spells big trouble for young women, the researchers add. "Apart from each other, depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and consuming large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous," researcher Victoria Osborne said. "Together, they can cause short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying, and making decisions."
Also, she adds that women are at higher risk for health problems related to binge drinking because they metabolize alcohol differently than men.
Women have more body fat and less water in their systems than men do, as well as lower levels of an enzyme important in the breakdown of alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in the US. This means they experience the effects of drinking more quickly and for a longer time than men.
What is a safe level of drinking? The NIAAA cites that for most adults, drinking up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women causes few if any problems. (One drink equals one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.)
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