Prevalence and Clinical Significance of Night Eating Syndrome in University Students

Journal of Adolescent Health (Impact Factor: 3.61). 01/2014; 55(1). DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.11.012
Source: PubMed


Most studies of night eating syndrome (NES) fail to control for binge eating, despite moderate overlap between the two conditions. Establishing the independent clinical significance of NES is imperative for it to be considered worthy of clinical attention. We compared students with and without NES on eating disorder symptomatology, quality of life, and mental health, while exploring the role of binge eating in associations.
Students (N = 1,636) ages 18-26 years (M = 20.9) recruited from 10 U.S. universities completed an online survey including the Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ), Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q), Project Eating Among Teens, and the Health-Related Quality of Life-4. NES was diagnosed according to endorsement of proposed diagnostic criteria on the NEQ. Groups (NES vs. non-NES) were compared on all dependent variables and stratified by binge eating status in secondary analyses.
The prevalence of NES in our sample was 4.2%; it decreased to 2.9% after excluding those with binge eating. Body mass index did not differ between groups, but students with NES were significantly more likely to have histories of underweight and anorexia nervosa. In students with NES, EDE-Q scores were significantly higher; purging, laxative use, and compulsive exercise were more frequent; quality of life was reduced; and histories of depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and self-injury were more common. Binge eating did not account for all of these differences; the presence of it and NES was associated with additive risk for psychopathology on some items.
NES may be a distinct clinical entity from other DSM-5 eating disorders.

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Available from: Rebecka Peebles, Feb 10, 2014
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    • "Only 2% of the student sample met the NEQ >25 criterion for NES compared to nearly 6% reported byNolan and Geliebter (2012)using the Night Eating Diagnostic Questionnaire (Gluck et al., 2001). However, consistent with this study,Runfola et al. (2014) andMeule et al. (2014b)reported that approximately 2% of their student samples were diagnosed with NES using the NEQ > 25 criterion. The occurrence of NES in the community sample is consistent with that found in other studies (seeAllison et al., 2008;Striegel-Moore, Franko, & Garcia, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Night eating syndrome (NES) and “food addiction” (FA) are associated with elevated body mass index (BMI) and disturbed eating behavior. The present study was conducted to examine whether NES is associated with FA, and whether BMI, depression and sleep quality contribute to any relationship between NES and FA. Two groups were studied: a sample of 254 university students and a sample of 244 older adults. All completed the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS), the Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ), the Zung Self-report Depression Scale, and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and BMI was computed from height and weight. In both samples, higher global NEQ scores were significantly correlated with more FA symptoms, elevated depression, and poorer sleep quality, and these correlations were significantly higher in the older adult sample than in the younger student sample. Higher BMI was significantly correlated with NEQ score only in the older adult sample. The hypothesis that the prediction of NEQ by YFAS was moderated by BMI and group membership (moderated moderation) was tested; while the prediction of NEQ by YFAS was not moderated by BMI, elevated YFAS predicted higher NEQ in the adult sample than it did in the student sample. In addition, multiple regression revealed that “continued use of food despite adverse effects” was the sole FA symptom predictive of NES symptoms in students while in older adults food tolerance was the only predictor of NES. Thus, NES appears to be associated with FA, more strongly in an older community sample; higher food tolerance in NES may contribute to a desire to eat late in the evening and/or when awakening at night.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2016 · Appetite
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    • "These results are in line with the fact that night eating may precede weight gain, as has been suggested previously (e.g., Gluck, Venti, Salbe, & Krakoff, 2008; Marshall et al., 2004). This may also explain inconsistent findings reported in the literature, for example from studies in which no association between body mass and night eating was found in young adults such as university students (Runfola et al., 2014). The specific mechanisms , however, remain to be explored. "
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    ABSTRACT: Night eating syndrome (NES) is marked by substantial evening or nocturnal food intake, insomnia, morning anorexia, and depressed mood. Originally, NES was described as an eating pattern among obese individuals. However, subsequent studies showed that NES also occurs among non-obese individuals, who appear to be younger than obese individuals with NES. Thus, it has been proposed that NES may lead to future weight gain, which may explain inconsistent findings about associations between NES and body mass. The current study investigated the relationships between age, body mass index (BMI), and night eating severity in a representative sample of German adults (n = 2317). It was found that age moderated the relationship between night eating severity and BMI. Specifically, night eating was positively associated with BMI in participants who were between 31-60 years old, but not in younger (<31 years) or older (>60 years) participants. Results indicate that age may indeed play an important role when examining the relationship between night eating and obesity. That is, weight gain may only occur after longer periods of engaging in night eating and, thus, no or only small relationships can be found in younger samples such as students. The positive association between night eating and BMI disappears in older individuals, which may be related to onset of illness associated with wasting.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Eating Behaviors
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    ABSTRACT: Night eating syndrome (NES) is marked by substantial evening or nocturnal food intake, insomnia, morning anorexia, and depressed mood. The Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ) is the most frequently used instrument for the assessment of NES and available in several languages. The current study aimed at providing and validating a German version of the NEQ using an online study among students (N = 729). The German NEQ had acceptable internal consistency ( = .71) and three-week retest-reliability (r = .77). The four-factor structure of the original version (morning anorexia, evening hyperphagia, mood/sleep, nocturnal ingestions) could be replicated, except for one item. Convergent validity was supported by moderate positive correlations with eating pathology, emotional eating, and habitual food cravings. Discriminant validity was supported by small positive correlations with relevant, but not eating-related constructs (eveningness preference, impulsivity). Scores on the NEQ were also positively, but weakly, correlated with body mass index (r = .18). The German version of the NEQ appears to be a useful tool for future investigations on night eating.
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