Young Swedes are increasingly starving themselves by day so they can binge drink by night, in a phenomenon dubbed “drunkorexia”, experts say.
The term, that has become a well-known, particularly in the US, describes how young people play the demand to drink off against pressures to stay slim.
“It is definitely something that is occurring here in Sweden,” Hanna Kihlander of the national eating disorder support group Anorexia/Bulimia Kontakt (ABK) told The Local. “I think it is fairly common as it is spread over so many different groups with different reasons for why they don’t eat,” she added.
Kihlander went on to say that some drinkers are also starving themselves due to economical reasons, as they need less alcohol to get drunk with an empty stomach. She cautions, however, that this means the body will struggle to cope with the poison in its system.
“It can accelerate both physical and mental decay. What the effects are long term, we can only imagine,” Anders Tengström, expert on addictions from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, told daily Dagens Nyheter.
“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 are 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,” Tengström added.
Stefan Sparring, a specialist at the Maria Ungdom addiction clinic in Stockholm, told DN that ‘drunkorexia’ is a growing problem. “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,” he said.