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J Adolesc Health. 2014 Jul;55(1):41-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.11.012. Epub 2014 Jan 31.

Prevalence and clinical significance of night eating syndrome in university students.

Author information

1
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
2
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
3
Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC.
4
Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
5
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Electronic address: peeblesr@email.chop.edu.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

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.

METHODS:

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.

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSIONS:

NES may be a distinct clinical entity from other DSM-5 eating disorders.

KEYWORDS:

Binge eating; Eating disorders; Night eating; Night eating syndrome; University students

PMID:
24485551
PMCID:
PMC4065810
DOI:
10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.11.012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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