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'Drunkorexia' on the rise in Sweden: report

'Drunkorexia' on the rise in Sweden: report

Published: 09 Feb 2012 14:13 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Feb 2012 14:13 GMT+01:00

An increasing number of young Swedes are starving themselves by day to be able to binge on calorie-rich alcoholic drinks by night, as a well known phenomenon in the US is becoming more common in Sweden, according to experts.

“It is definitely something that is occurring here in Sweden,” said Hanna Kihlander of the national eating disorder support group Anorexia/Bulimia Kontakt (ABK) to The Local.

In many parts of the world “drunkorexia” has become an accepted expression for how the young, and especially young women faced with the demand to drink at night but remain svelte, choose to abstain from eating during the day.

In Sweden, the behaviour has been noted by those who work with sufferers from eating disorders.

According to Kihlander, the practice is probably more widespread than previously believed.

“I think it is fairly common as it is spread over so many different groups with different reasons for why they don't eat,” said Kihlander.

She thinks that starving oneself in advance to compensate for the calories imbibed at night is common, not only among those who suffer from eating disorders but also by other image conscious young people.

Some of those who choose not to eat are also approaching it from an economic standpoint. It is easier to get drunk with no food in the system.

However, this kind of behaviour means that the body is being forced to deal with poison when it is the least prepared for it.

“It can accelerate both physical and mental decay. What the effects are long term we can only imagine,” said Anders Tengström, expert on addictions from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, to daily Dagens Nyheter.

Young people of today are under enormous pressure to be perceived as successful and attractive, according to Tengström.

“The idea of a successful person is a thin person who is in control of their body and their life. Young people today know that there is calories in alcohol as well. Looking at it that way starving to be able to drink becomes a logical step in dealing with an important issue in their lives,” said Tengström to DN.

At Maria Ungdom, the Stockholm clinic that handles drunkenness and drug use among young people, this is a well known phenomenon.

“We often get young girls here who say that the reason they got so inebriated is that they had eaten so little during the day before drinking. It happens remarkably often but of course they don't admit to us that they have problems with food,” said Stefan Sparring, specialist at Maria Ungdom, to the paper.

According to the paper, a recent study shows that up to 21 percent of the girls that end up at Maria Ungdom have some sort of eating disorder to start with.

Among the boys, the corresponding figure is 2 percent.

“To us, this so called 'drunkorexia' is part of an already existing behaviour, “ said Kihlander to The Local.

“But it is important to remember that this is the name of a behaviour and not a medical diagnosis.”

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:09 February 9, 2012 by Vill
Personally, I prefer "drunkulimia"
15:29 February 9, 2012 by Svensksmith
They should drink Guinness. A meal in every bottle.
15:55 February 9, 2012 by eppie
1: the problem is with alcohol abuse per se. Eating a lot and then drinking even more (because you want to get drunk) doesnot sound much better to me.

2: if there really was such heavy social pressure about staying thin why are half of all people in western country's suffering from overweight? I think Sweden is doing pretty good compared to its peers such as germany, US, UK etc. but still.

I think there is too much effort being put in this 'problem' of people eating too little which instead should be focussed more on people eating too much.
16:16 February 9, 2012 by Achilles7
"Young people of today are under enormous pressure to be perceived as successful and attractive, according to Tengström."

Well I would have thought that drinking copious amounts of alcohol and smoking like a chimney are two fine ways to ensure that you will not remain very attractive for long.

I would also like to be as attractive and successful as possible, and that is why I eat healthily, work out regularly, drink sparingly, and have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I'm always mildy bemused when people choose to act differently.
16:50 February 9, 2012 by roaringchicken92
More appropriate, Vill. And it usually has the added benefit of never again wanting to consume the drink that caused the drunkulimia.
19:05 February 9, 2012 by zooeden
Like Bob Dylan says: everybody should get stoned!!!

...and then they will get the munchies and eat :D
21:01 February 9, 2012 by yellowbluedemocrat
For an article with a headline like "Drunkorexia on the rise in Sweden," there is precious little information about how common a problem this is. Are two% of young Sweden involved in this, versus 1% five years ago? It's impossible to assess how serious a problem this is without some indication about how prevalent it is.
21:43 February 9, 2012 by dizzymoe33
So either they drink themselves to death or starve themselves to death!! Way to go just to have a good time!! Can you say losers?!
08:35 February 10, 2012 by Da Goat
yes I was gonna say give them Darwin awards but dizzy kind-a beat me! yep losers!
21:25 February 19, 2012 by MurasakiSunshine
As an American, I can say that this is very common here. I know people who will plan to go out for the weekend and not eat anything on Thursday or Friday in order to be able to drink beer and eat pizza on Saturday night when they go out. If you're drinking so much that you have to skip meals to compensate for calories, you not only have an eating problem but you have a drinking problem as well.
20:01 March 17, 2012 by chinthe1
Help! There are many of us here in Africa who are starving.Just send 2Euros per month and we can buy cheap spirits and get wasted.Thanks!
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