Counseling Services Newsletter
Dawn O’Shea-Farley
April 18, 2012

“People who participate in disordered eating combined with binge drinking are also more at risk for violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, substance abuse and chronic diseases later in life” (Osborne 2011).

College students are always trying to determine the best way to enjoy all parts of life.  Low on money, high on expectations, college is perhaps the greatest period of experimentation. It is, however, important to be smart in your choices to preserve your health as you move through what should be a long life.

A recent study published by the University of Missouri – Columbia led by Victoria Osborne, assistant professor of Social Work  and Public Health has concluded that a new trend which combines both disordered eating and heavy drinking has become common on college campuses with both men and women, however women express the behavior at a rate three times their counterpart.  A survey completed as part of the U of Missouri study suggests that one in six students opted to restrict food calories for the purpose of allowing for alcohol and binge drinking.

Students who choose this path to either save calories, reserve cash for drinking or get a quicker “buzz” are likely to find that their brains can be severely handicapped in both the short and long term.  Every college student has to make a decision about whether they would like to risk their success in school and life for the purpose of saving their waistline or their pocketbook.

What happens physically and mentally?
Keep in mind, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “alcoholism and eating disorders frequently co–occur and often co–occur in the presence of other psychiatric and personality disorders.”  Its often about addiction.  Engaging in this behavior can be your entry into a world of struggle that you never anticipated.  A recent study published in Biological Psychiatry found that one third of bulimics also struggle with alcohol or drug abuse.

Depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and flushing your system with alcohol can cause physical and mental damage.  The increased effect of alcohol can also put participants of this practice at risk for alcoholism.

Women metabolize alcohol differently than men, in part due to weight differential but further, there is a difference in alcohol metabolizing enzymes.  A recent article in the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education cites a study performed by Freeze that found that nonalcoholic men had 70-80% higher gastric alcohol dehydrogenase activities than nonalcoholic women. This puts women at higher risk for negative alcohol abuse effects such as brain damage and cirrhosis.  (Burke, Cremeens, Vail-Smith and Woolsey.)

Use the resource available on the MSOE Counseling Services website linking you to sites such as and take a look a the interactive body to see how alcohol affects every organ in your body.

Consider also that “intoxicating amounts of alcohol” can reduce the amount of nutrients absorbed by the body.  Alcohol increases digestive juices causing an irritation of your stomach.  In the case of restricted food intake and increased alcohol consumption, chances are high that stomach troubles are in your future.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (2006), approximately 20% of college students, both male and female, reported that they have had an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Studies have also discovered other subclinical disordered eating behaviors among college students that include binge eating, chronic dieting, fasting or purging to control weight, self-induced vomiting, and the use of diet pills or diuretics (Forman-Hoffman, 2004; Mints & Betz, 1988; Tylka & Subich, 2002).  In general some of the physical effects of anorexia include things like severe mood swings, depression, reduced energy, poor memory and slowed cognitive process, headaches, dizziness, and tooth decay and gum disease.

Consider choosing a healthier path while still indulging in your social activities.
A new plan of action could include:

  1. Alternate between an alcoholic beverage and another healthier option such as water throughout the night.
  2. Plan alcohol consumption into your daily caloric intake by eating HEALTHIER meals instead of total food avoidance.
  3. Be nice to your stomach – coat the lining of your stomach with foods high in protein and fat before consuming alcohol.  You will also slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream by following this simple rule.
  4. Think long term: your body is recording your activities, treat it well.
  5. Consider the consequences:  giving up control of your physical self and risking long term emotional consequences, may not be worth the short term high received from a quick buzz.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month.
Counseling Services recently sent out a list of great resources to help you learn more:


Local Resources

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Burke, Sloane C., Cremeens, Jennifer, Vail-Smith, Karen and Woolsey, Conrad. (2010).  Drunkorexia: calorie restriction prior to alcohol consumption among college freshman by Sloane C. Burke, Jennifer Cremeens, Karen Vail-Smith, Conrad Woolsey in Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education retrieved from

University of Missouri-Columbia (2011, October 17).  ‘Drunkorexia: A recipe for disaster.’  ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from