Disorder overblown

Research from the University of Missouri suggests that a growing number of students forgo meals during the day in order to save calories for drinking alcohol at night. An Oct. 19 article from the Calgary Herald reported on the apparent trend that has been dubbed “drunkorexia.” According to the study, the behavior stems from a desire to save money and get drunk quickly without gaining weight. Labeling the behaviour as an “eating and drinking disorder” does a disservice to those suffering from legitimate disorders that are all too common. Naming the supposed phenomenon “drunkorexia” insinuates the behavior has a direct relation to anorexia nervosa, but this is unproven. Anorexia is a serious and complex eating disorder.

While drunkorexics employ a similar cost-benefit analysis to calories, these are two separate issues. Painting all disorders with the same brush ignores the fact that drunkorexia, as it’s explained in the study, is a simple choice.

Binge drinking is an unhealthy habit that can lead to serious problems. It’s a problem worthy of consideration, but students acting in a foolish and irresponsible manner doesn’t necessarily constitute an emotional disorder.

Those who choose to get drunk by limiting their caloric intake are aware of the risks involved and do so anyway. The student body is a rational group of individuals who at times make poor choices, but it’s sensationalist to claim drunkorexia is a trend on the rise. The Herald article makes mention of Queen’s when stating that alcohol-related health risks are increasing. It cites the 2010 deaths of two Queen’s students, and the resulting coroner’s report that recommended a review of alcohol policies on campus.

This tacit link is utterly inappropriate — there has been no proven connection at all between last year’s tragedies and the apparent trend of drunkorexia.

It’s a sensationalist comparison that has no grounding, and is yet another example of media’s attempt to diagnose problems among the student population without evidence. The study has yet to be peer-reviewed.

It’s hardly logical to compare the results of a study performed at a university in the American mid-west with Queen’s and assume the implications of the study are the same. Unhealthy alcohol consumption may be an issue on university campuses, and one worthy of action, but alarmist reporting won’t do anything to solve the problem.

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