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Compr Psychiatry. 2009 Sep-Oct;50(5):391-9. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2008.09.013. Epub 2008 Nov 26.

Development of criteria for a diagnosis: lessons from the night eating syndrome.

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Department of Psychiatry, Center for Weight and Eating Disorders,University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Criteria for inclusion of diagnoses of Axis I disorders in the forthcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) of the American Psychiatric Association are being considered. The 5 criteria that were proposed by Blashfield et al as necessary for inclusion in DSM-IV are reviewed and are met by the night eating syndrome (NES). Seventy-seven publications in refereed journals in the last decade indicate growing recognition of NES. Two core diagnostic criteria have been established: evening hyperphagia (consumption of at least 25% of daily food intake after the evening meal) and/or the presence of nocturnal awakenings with ingestions. These criteria have been validated in studies that used self-reports, structured interviews, and symptom scales. Night eating syndrome can be distinguished from binge eating disorder and sleep-related eating disorder. Four additional features attest to the usefulness of the diagnosis of NES: (1) its prevalence, (2) its association with obesity, (3) its extensive comorbidity, and (4) its biological aspects. In conclusion, research on NES supports the validity of the diagnosis and its inclusion in DSM-V.

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