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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996 Jan;20(1):1-6.

Binge eating disorder and the night-eating syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.



To determine in three samples of obese women the prevalence of two eating disorders--binge eating disorder and the night-eating syndrome.


Interviews utilizing standard criteria. For binge eating disorder: the consumption of large amounts of food in a discrete period of time together with a subjective sense of loss of control and no vomiting or laxative abuse. For the night-eating syndrome: morning anorexia, evening hyperphagia and insomnia. Determining the rate of binging among patients receiving a placebo.


(1) 102 viewers of a television show describing binge eating disorder; (2) 50 participants in a trial of medication for this disorder and (3) 79 participants in a weight reduction program.


In the television sample 19.6% of respondents and in the weight reduction sample 7.6% met criteria for binge eating disorder; all subjects in the medication sample met criteria. During a 4-week placebo period average binge frequency fell from 6.0 to 1.7 binges per week. The night-eating syndrome was manifested by 13.7% of the television sample, 8.9% of the weight reduction sample and 15.0% in the medication trial sample. There was little overlap between the two disorders.


Binge eating disorder is far less frequent than has been believed on the basis of questionnaire studies and it is highly responsive to placebos. Frequency of the night-eating syndrome is comparable to that of binge eating disorder. Future studies should assess binge eating disorder by interview rather than by self-administered questionnaire.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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