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).
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
CBS News (2008) Drunkorexia: Health dangers for women. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drunkorexia-health-danger-for-women/. Accessed 4 Apr 2019
Eisenberg MH, Fitz CC (2014) “Drunkorexia”: exploring the who and why of a disturbing trend in college students’ eating and drinking behaviors. J Am Coll Health 62(8):570–577. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2014.947991
Hunt TK, Forbush KT (2016) Is “drunkorexia” an eating disorder, substance use disorder, or both? Eat Behav 22:40–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2016.03.034
Laghi F, Pompili S, Bianchi D, Lonigro A, Baiocco R (2019) Psychological characteristics and eating attitudes in adolescents with drunkorexia behavior: an exploratory study. Eat Weight Disord. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-019-00675-y
Eisenberg MH, Johnson CC, Zucker AN (2018) Starving for a drink: sexual objectification is associated with food-restricted alcohol consumption among college women, but not among men. Women Health 58(2):175–187. https://doi.org/10.1080/03630242.2017.1292342
Choquette EM, Rancourt D, Kevin Thompson J (2018) From fad to FAD: a theoretical formulation and proposed name change for “drunkorexia” to food and alcohol disturbance (FAD). Int J Eating Disorder 51(8):831–834. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22926
Thompson-Memmer C, Glassman T, Diehr A (2018) Drunkorexia: a new term and diagnositic criteria. J Am Coll Health. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2018.1500470
Landry AS, Madson MB, Mohn RS, Nicholson BC (2017) Development and psychometric evaluation of the College Eating and Drinking Behaviors Scale in US college students. Int J Ment Health Ad 15(3):485–492. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-016-9702-2
Rahal CJ, Bryant JB, Darkes J, Menzel JE, Thompson JK (2012) Development and validation of the compensatory eating and behaviors in response to alcohol consumption scale (CEBRACS). Eat Behav 13(2):83–87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2011.11.001
Ward RM, Galante M (2015) Development and initial validation of the drunkorexia motives and behaviors scales. Eat Behav 18:66–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.04.003
Roosen KM, Mills JS (2015) Exploring the motives and mental health correlates of intentional food restriction prior to alcohol use in university students. J Health Psychol 20(6):875–886. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105315573436
Pompili S, Laghi F (2018) Drunkorexia: disordered eating behaviors and risky alcohol consumption among adolescents. J Health Psychol. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318791229
Gorrell S, Walker DC, Anderson DA, Boswell JF (2019) Gender differences in relations between alcohol-related compensatory behavior and eating pathology. Eat Weight Disord 24(4):715–721
Pompili S, Laghi F (2018) Drunkorexia among adolescents: the role of motivations and emotion regulation. Eat Behav 29:1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2018.01.001
Bryant JB, Darkes J, Rahal C (2012) College students’ compensatory eating and behaviors in response to alcohol consumption. J Am Coll Health 60(5):350–356. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2011.630702
Pinna F, Milia P, Mereu A, di Santa Sofia SL, Puddu L, Fatteri F, Ghiani A, Lai A, Sanna L, Carpiniello B (2015) Validation of the Italian version of the compensatory eating and behaviors in response to alcohol consumption scale (CEBRACS). Eat Behav 19:120–126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.08.004
Mendelson BK, Mendelson MJ, White DR (2001) Body-esteem scale for adolescents and adults. J Pers Assess 76(1):90–106. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327752JPA7601_6
Antin TM, Paschall MJ (2011) Weight perception, weight change intentions, and alcohol use among young adults. Body Image 8(2):149–156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2011.01.002
Cunningham M, Stapinski L, Griffiths S, Baillie A (2017) Dysmorphic appearance concern and hazardous alcohol use in university students: the mediating role of alcohol expectancies. Aust Psychol 52(6):424–432. https://doi.org/10.1111/ap.12275
Zuckerman M (1994) Behavioral expressions and biosocial bases of sensation seeking. Cambridge University Press, New York
Adams ZW, Kaiser AJ, Lynam DR, Charnigo RJ, Milich R (2012) Drinking motives as mediators of the impulsivity-substance use relation: pathways for negative urgency, lack of premeditation, and sensation seeking. Addict Behav 37(7):848–855. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.03.016
Loxton NJ, Bunker RJ, Dingle GA, Wong V (2015) Drinking not thinking: a prospective study of personality traits and drinking motives on alcohol consumption across the first year of university. Pers Individ Differ 79:134–139. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.02.010
Magid V, Maclean MG, Colder CR (2007) Differentiating between sensation seeking and impulsivity through their mediated relations with alcohol use and problems. Addict Behav 32(10):2046–2061. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.01.015
Hoyle RH, Stephenson MT, Palmgreen P, Lorch EP, Donohew RL (2002) Reliability and validity of a brief measure of sensation seeking. Pers Individ Differ 32(3):401–414
Hittner JB, Swickert R (2006) Sensation seeking and alcohol use: a meta-analytic review. Addict Behav 31(8):1383–1401. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2005.11.004
Speranza M, Revah-Levy A, Giquel L, Loas G, Venisse JL, Jeammet P, Corcos M (2012) An investigation of Goodman’s addictive disorder criteria in eating disorders. Eur Eat Disord Rev 20(3):182–189. https://doi.org/10.1002/erv.1140
Brewerton TD, Cotton BD, Kilpatrick DG (2018) Sensation seeking, binge-type eating disorders, victimization, and PTSD in the National Women’s Study. Eat Behav 30:120–124. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2018.07.001
Ickes MJ, Haider T, Sharma M (2013) Alcohol abuse prevention programs in college students. J Subst Use 20(3):208–227. https://doi.org/10.3109/14659891.2013.856480
Conflict of interest
Both authors declare no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
This article is part of topical collection on Personality and eating and weight disorders.
About this article
Cite this article
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
- Sensation seeking
- Body esteem
- Weight esteem
- Appearance esteem
- Alcohol use