Examining Drunkorexia in College Students: Does Motivation Moderate the Association between Physical Activity and Alcohol Consumption?



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The literature has generally established a positive correlational relationship between physical activity (PA) and alcohol consumption (AC). Further inquiry investigating why this relationship exists, which factors explain variation in this relationship, which health behavior tends to precede the other, and why this relationship is sometimes only present in certain populations or for certain types of PA (i.e., moderate, or vigorous) have been ongoing. One such way researchers have attempted to assess PA and AC in young adults is through the lens of “Drunkorexia,” which encompasses several preparatory and compensatory behaviors (i.e., meal skipping, eating less, eating disorder behaviors, exercise, etc.) in relation to one’s AC to offset calories or speed up/exacerbate alcohol’s effects. The present study examined the relationship between PA/AC in a large college student sample, assessed compensatory behaviors as moderators of the PA/AC link, and tested exercise motives for weight management and appearance for three-way interactions with PA and compensatory behaviors in predicting AC. There was a small but significant positive correlation between PA/AC within the present college student sample. Results also indicated levels of PA dampened a generally positive association between preparatory behaviors designed to enhance alcohol effects and AC quantity. Findings suggest universities may curb drinking by promoting PA among students with tendencies to engage in alcohol-related preparatory/compensatory behaviors.



Alcohol, Drunkorexia, Physical activity, Exercise motivation, College students