Article

Night eating syndrome: implications for severe obesity

Department of Obesity & Endocrinology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
Nutrition & Diabetes (Impact Factor: 1.52). 09/2012; 2(9):e44. DOI: 10.1038/nutd.2012.16
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Night eating syndrome (NES) was first identified in 1955 by Stunkard, a psychiatrist specialising in eating disorders (ED). Over the last 20 years considerable progress has been made in defining NES as a significant clinical entity in its own right and it has now been accepted for inclusion in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) due for publication in 2013. NES is considered a dysfunction of circadian rhythm with a disassociation between eating and sleeping. Core criteria include a daily pattern of eating with a significantly increased intake in the evening and/or night time, as manifested by one or both of the following: at least 25% of food intake is consumed after the evening meal or at least two episodes of nocturnal eating per week. An important recent addition to core criteria includes the presence of significant distress and/or impairment in functioning. Stunkard's team recommend further investigation on the pathogenesis of NES, in particular its relationship with traumatic life events, psychiatric comorbidity, the age of onset of NES and course of NES over time. The relationship between NES and other ED also requires further clarification as night-eaters exhibit some features of other ED; previous guidance to separate NES from other ED may have hindered earlier characterisation of NES. Evidence from European and American studies suggests NES features strongly in populations with severe obesity. The complex interplay between depression, impaired sleep and obesity-related comorbidity in severely obese individuals makes understanding NES in this context even more difficult. This review examines evidence to date on the characterisation of NES and concludes by examining the applicability of current NES criteria to individuals with severe obesity.

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