in Healthy Eating

4 min read

Let’s continue where we left of. In the first article I gave you a general outline of night eating syndrome. In this one, I am going to talk about some of the issues that often come together with this disorder.

There is an overlap with other eating disorders as we would expect. Especially with binge eating disorder. This overlap also occurs as it is hard to differentiate between the two of them on the basis of total food intake and the subjective sense of loss of control. As they are quite similar in that aspect. [1]

I’ll present five commodities this disorder is often connected to.


Weight loss and weight gain

One study was following people with night eating syndrome and observed that they lost less weight than people who had no such disorder [2]. However, these results are not uniform and did not occur in another study [3].

Other patients who were diagnosed with night eating syndrome, noticed that when they underwent a weight loss program, the frequency of their night eating episodes lowered or completely stopped [4]. Another study found out that in a three year span, volunteers that had night eating syndrome features, so not an actual diagnosis, had gained around 6,2 kg in comparison to control volunteers without such features – these gained 1,7 kg on average. [5]



Night eating syndrome has been associated with obesity too. As I’ve mentioned before, it is more common among weight loss populations [1]. However, this connection is not as straightforward as we might think, when certain studies controlled for sex and age, these results lost their statistical significance, they could have happened by chance, and there was no difference in weight gain or BMI among people with night eating syndrome and people without. [6] [7] [3]



Around 10% of patients with type I and type II diabetes have, in the past, reported that they ate more than 25% of their daily calories after 7pm. Furthermore, diabetes patients were more likely to be obese, even after controlling them for night eating syndrome, age, sex, race, and a major depression disorder diagnosis. [8]



But it doesn’t stop there. Night eating syndrome is connected to a worsening of the mood during the latter part of the day, and  different depressive symptoms. In many studies it has also been found to be connected to major depressive disorder. [9]

However, we should be clear on one fact. A simple worsening of the mood during the latter part of the day, depressive symptoms, and major depressive disorder, are not the same thing and should be differentiated accordingly.

A lower mood in the late afternoon and early evening could be attributed to a daytime food restriction , or it could be simply a result of the excessive evening eating and/or weight gain, which is causing their frustration [10]. This can hardly be considered as a symptom of depression, if it does not lead to other consequences of course.


Anxiety and stress

Night eating syndrome tends to occur during periods of life events that cause stress. The idea is that when people wake up during the night, they tend to (over)eat to cope with the stress which they are experiencing. [11]

People with this disorder are also more likely to perceive stress. One comparison of healthy weight people that had night eating syndrome and people who didn’t, showed that the former could have had a history of anxiety disorders in 47,1% cases. This was based on structured interviews which they underwent, In comparison, the control group of people who did not have a diagnosis of NES, received a percentage of 9,1%.

This is one of the reasons why the researchers suggest that people who have diagnosed with NES, should also be assessed for anxiety disorders as well. Moreover, for such people, a relaxation training or stress management should be administered.


To sum it all up

The biggest issue with eating healthy and losing weight for people with night eating syndrome is that there is often an overlap with depressive symptoms and worsened mood, poor weight-related quality of life, a different perception of stress, and disturbed eating patterns. All of these together can strongly influence the success rate of weight-loss interventions for people with night eating syndrome.


The Night Eating Syndrome Report

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