Link Between Binge Drinking and Eating Disorders

binge-drinking-girlTreating adolescents who struggle with addiction and mental health disorders is challenging. Both chemical and physical changes that occur during the developmental stages of life add more variables to already complex disorders that require treatment.

Binge drinking among adolescents has long been a major concern, being associated with a number of health problems, risky behaviors, and the practice has the propensity to lead to addiction. Another concern regarding adolescents are eating disorders, the most common being Anorexia Nervosa and bulimia.

New research suggests that there may be a link between binge drinking and eating disorders among adolescent girls, Medical News Today reports. A study of Russian adolescents, regarding the relationship between binge drinking and eating problems found that problematic eating behaviors and attitudes are commonplace, although binge drinking is associated with more eating problems in girls than boys.

“Although binge drinking has been studied in relation to a variety of different health risk behaviors, there has been comparatively little research undertaken on the association between binge drinking and problematic eating behavior,” said study corresponding author Andrew Stickley, a researcher at Södertörn University in Sweden. “Most of this research has been undertaken in North America. Several studies among adolescents have linked binge drinking to various forms of disordered eating such as fasting, using diet pills, and purging behaviors.”

Using the Social and Health Assessment (SAHA), a school-based survey carried out in Arkhangelsk, Russia, researchers analyzed data on 2,488 (1485 girls, 1003 boys) 6th to 10th grade students (aged 13 to 17 years old), according to the article. The research team collected data on binge drinking and various forms of eating problems, such as:

  • Worries About weight
  • Feeling Fat
  • Excessive Eating
  • Fasting
  • Excessive Exercise
  • Purging Behaviors

“There were two main findings,” said Stickley. “First, problematic eating behaviors and attitudes were commonplace among Russian adolescents, especially among girls. Second, binge drinking was associated with eating problems among both sexes, although it was linked with more eating problems in girls.”

The findings will be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.