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Narcolepsy Linked with Higher BMI, Eating Disorder

Narcoleptic patients have lower resting metabolism and may use eating habits to control sleepiness

FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with narcolepsy are more likely to be overweight and have lower basal metabolism than people without the disorder; the greater weight may be due to metabolism or eating practices that help them minimize daytime sleepiness, according to research published in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

Dorothee Chabas, M.D., Ph.D., of the Hopital Pitie-Salpetriere in Paris, France, and colleagues analyzed data from 13 people with narcolepsy and nine healthy, matched controls. Subjects recorded their food intake over three days, and researchers conducted tests to evaluate their eating behaviors, recorded their body mass index (BMI) and measured their resting energy expenditure.

The investigators found that the median BMI tended to be higher in the narcolepsy group, and narcoleptic patients tended to have lower resting energy expenditure. In addition, half the patients had a mild eating behavior disorder, perhaps best classified as an "Eating Disorders Not Other Specified."

"When asked how they explain their eating attitude, several narcoleptic patients reported using food avoidance or binge eating as a way to manage daytime sleepiness. This included: (1) avoiding food at lunch to be more alert in the afternoon versus consuming high amount of food just before sleeping to reduce dyssomnia; (2) quickly eating snacks when feeling a sleep attack coming; (3) skipping lunch to nap during lunch time; (4) having irregular, unpredictable eating and sleeping schedules," the authors write.

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