Examining the role of body esteem and sensation seeking in drunkorexia behaviors



The purpose of the present study was to examine the role of body esteem (BE), sensation seeking (SS), and their interaction in drunkorexia, a behavior pattern marked by calorie restriction/compensation in the context of alcohol consumption. While previous research on drunkorexia has focused on a range of variables, the present study examined two novel variables and their potential interaction: body esteem (weight, appearance) and sensation seeking.


A sample of college students (n =488) completed the Body Esteem Scale for Adolescents and Adults, the Brief Sensation Seeking Scale, and the Compensatory Eating and Behaviors in Response to Alcohol Consumption Scale, which measures overall drunkorexia engagement as well as four dimensions: alcohol effects, bulimia, dietary restraint and exercise, and restriction.


Moderated linear regression analyses indicated that SS and BE (weight, appearance) did not interact in predicting drunkorexia. Rather, only main effects were observed; SS, weight esteem (WE), and appearance esteem (AE) were significant in predicting overall drunkorexia engagement. In terms of the drunkorexia dimensions, AE was a significant predictor in the alcohol effects, dietary restraint and exercise, and restriction models. WE was significant in the dietary restraint and exercise model as well as the restriction model. SS was a significant predictor across all drunkorexia dimensions.


Our findings suggest that both elevated SS and lowered BE are associated with drunkorexia engagement. Implications for practice are discussed. Drunkorexia is a complex and multifaceted behavior pattern; therefore, further research is needed in this area of study.

Level of evidence

Level V (descriptive study).

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Correspondence to Erin M. Hill.

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Hill, E.M., Lego, J.E. Examining the role of body esteem and sensation seeking in drunkorexia behaviors. Eat Weight Disord 25, 1507–1513 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-019-00784-8

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  • Drunkorexia
  • Sensation seeking
  • Body esteem
  • Weight esteem
  • Appearance esteem
  • Alcohol use