Night Eating Prevalent in Psychiatric Patients

Nighttime bingeing associated with obesity and substance abuse

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Night eating syndrome is common in psychiatric patients and is associated with obesity and substance abuse, according to a study published in the January issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Jennifer D. Lundgren, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues studied 399 subjects from psychiatric outpatient clinics to assess hunger and craving patterns, percentage of calories consumed following the evening meal, insomnia and awakenings, nocturnal food cravings and ingestions, and mood.

The researchers identified night eating syndrome in 12.3% of the subjects. They found that night eaters had an obesity rate of 57.1%, with a mean body mass index of 33.1 compared to 27.7 for non-night eaters. They also found that night eaters had a substance abuse rate of 30.6% compared to 8.3% for non-night eaters and that alcohol was the most commonly abused substance.

"Mental health practitioners will probably encounter night eating syndrome in their practice and will need treatment options," the authors write. "A recent study has found significant improvements in key night eating syndrome symptoms, including nocturnal ingestion and evening hyperphagia, with sertraline."

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