Binge drinking may cause binge eating

Binge drinking may cause binge eating

Drinking and eating excessively is quite common at festivals and in parties. While over-indulgence is acceptable sometimes, for the millions of Americans who suffer from both binge eating and drinking disorders, it is a daily, uphill battle. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines four drinks for women and five drinks for men within 2 hours as binge drinking. Although young adults aged 18-34 years are more common binge drinkers, it has not spared even children and older people.

While alcohol abuse and binge eating disorders (BED) were once considered to be two different afflictions and thus also treated separately, research has shown that people who suffer from alcohol addiction are also likely to have some form of an eating disorder. In fact, studies by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) have found that there is a link between eating disorders and substance abuse.

While previous researches established that people who drink excessively also indulged in binge eating fast food, the results seemed a bit peculiar because alcohol is calorie dense, which means that consuming it should dampen hunger, not increase it. However, a recent study on mice may have the answer to this puzzle. The results of this study, published in the journal Nature Communications in January 2017, showed a cause-and-effect relation between excessive consumption of alcohol and overeating.

Excessive alcohol evokes intense hunger

The study has found that “alcohol activates a specific set of hypothalamic neurons associated with feeding behavior.” To begin with, the researchers formed two groups, both comprising male and female mice. They injected the mice in the experimental group with alcohol every day, for a period of three days, while the rodents in the control group were given a saline solution. All mice were raised in a single house to rule out the effects of societal factors in inducing hunger.

Interestingly, in the experimental group, on the days that the mice were injected with alcohol, they consumed much larger amounts of food within one to four hours of receiving the alcohol. When their brains were studied, higher ethanol levels and activated agouti-related protein neurons (AgRP) were evident. Thus, it becomes clear that though alcohol is calorie dense, its consumption activates AgRP neurons in the brain, leading to intense hunger, which eventually causes binge eating.

Binge drinking results in risky behavior

Binge drinking is more common in men than in women but both are prone to risks such as these:

  • Physical health problems like stroke, liver disease and diabetes
  • Accidental injuries from car crashes and falls
  • Alcohol poisoning and/or death
  • Abusive behavior like fights, assaults and other forms of violence

Consuming alcohol in moderate amounts, occasionally, may not pose a problem but a person must be careful about how dangerous it can be, if controlled. It is better to be aware than regret.

Seeking timely treatment for alcohol addiction

Without treatment, the complications caused by alcohol abuse and BED can increase exponentially. Both can cause long-term damage to a person’s mental and physical health. In such cases, it is better to get the problem diagnosed at the right time.

If you know someone who is seeking help for alcohol addiction problem, the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California representatives can suggest some of the best alcohol addiction treatment centers in California. There are several alcohol rehab centers in California that provide intensive care and treatment to help people recover from addiction. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online to know more.

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