While "drunkorexia" is not a medical term, it has become easily understood slang for the practice of swapping food calories for those in alcohol.
And as the college semester is in full swing, campus counselors hear the term in the context of alcohol education and eating disorders.
"It's a sensationalized term, but it's a tangible idea for students," acknowledges Emily Hedstrom-Lieser of the Drug, Alcohol & Tobacco Education Office at the University of Northern Colorado. Students at the school are putting up bulletin boards in residence halls on the topic, and creating a series of events for National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, Monday through Friday.
At UNC, Hedstrom-Lieser says students tell her about seeing their friends drink on an empty stomach, binge on "drunk food" — pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers — then feel guilty and vomit.
A study published in the July 2009 issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders found a connection between binge drinking (four or more drinks in one sitting) and eating disorders. The authors suggest that there is a "crucial need for early interventions targeting binge drinking among college-age women regardless of their current drinking status."