The combination of disordered eating and heavy alcohol consumption known as drunkorexia is common among U.S. college students, researchers say.
Victoria Osborne, assistant professor of social work and public health at the University of Missouri, examined the relationship between alcohol misuse and disordered eating, including calorie restriction and purging.
The study found 16 percent of those surveyed reported restricting calories to "save them" for drinking, and of the respondents, about three times as many women as men reported engaging in the behavior.
Motivations for drunkorexia include preventing weight gain, getting intoxicated faster and saving money that would be spent on food to buy alcohol, the study found.
Drunkorexia could have dangerous cognitive, behavioral and physical consequences, as well as put people at risk for developing more serious eating disorders or addiction problems, Osborne said.
"Apart from each other, depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and consuming large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous," Osborne said in a statement. "Together, they can cause short- and long-term cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating, studying and making decisions."
People who participate in disordered eating combined with binge drinking are at an elevated risk for violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, substance abuse and chronic diseases later in life, Osborne said.
The findings were presented at the American Psychopathological Association and the Research Society on Alcoholism.