Women With Eating Disorders Exhibit Riskier Drinking Behaviors

HealthDay News — Women with eating disorders more often exhibit risky drinking behaviors than their unaffected peers, according to a study published online April 1 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Linda Mustelin, MD, PhD, from the University of Helsinki, and colleagues used a large population-based twin sample to examine how drinking behaviors of women with lifetime eating disorders vary from adolescence to adulthood. One hundred eighty-two women with a lifetime eating disorder were identified from the 1975 to 1979 birth cohorts of Finnish twins. The frequency of drinking and intoxication was evaluated three times, at ages 16, 24, and 34 years.

The researchers found that at age 16, more women with eating disorders reported being severely intoxicated when they last drank (25% vs 16%; P = 0.001). At ages 24 and 34 years, women with eating disorders reported more frequent intoxication and more alcohol-related problems than their unaffected peers. More alcohol-related problems were reported by women in their 30s who had recovered from their eating disorder at age 24 years compared with other women. There was no difference for women with lifetime eating disorders and unaffected women in terms of age of drinking onset, number of monthly drinking days, or frequency of intoxication in adolescence.

“Women with eating disorders scored higher than their unaffected peers on scales measuring alcohol dependence, alcohol-related problems, and intoxication,” the authors wrote. “These differences persisted from mid-adolescence into young adulthood.”


Mustelin L, Latvala A, Raevuori A, Rose RJ, Kaprio J, Keski-Rahkonen A. Risky drinking behaviors among women with eating disorders — A longitudinal community-based study. Int. J. Eat. Disord. 2016; doi:10.1002/eat.22526.