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Night Eating Syndrome

(Casa Palmera)


Night eating syndrome is part of the eating disorders not otherwise specified (OFSED), nocturnal hyperphagia is caused, among other things, by a dysfunction of the circadian cycle. Appetite is generally very low or even nonexistent in the morning for a person with this eating disorder and abnormally high in the evening. According to the DSM-5 (2013), this syndrome is characterized by either consuming at least 25% of energy intake after supper and/or waking up at night at least twice a week to eat. Additionally, there must be the presence of significant distress and/or interfering with a person's ability to perform daily activities (1).


  • Too many food restrictions during the day;

  • Stress;

  • Habit (Ex: during his or her studies, a student ate at night since he went to bed late and kept this habit after graduating) (2) and others.


  • Weight gain;

  • Overweight and obesity (increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and certain types of cancer);

  • Stress;

  • Sleeping troubles; etc.


This syndrome is an eating, sleeping and mood disorder related to stress and an endocrine disorder. Research on this syndrome is very limited. So far, medication seems to be the most effective solution. A drug that improves serotonin function has been shown to have a positive effect on this disorder (sertraline: SSRIs) (3,4 & 5). To date, due to a lack of research and conclusive results, medication is not the solution offered in the clinic. On the other hand, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) shows promise for treating this eating disorder. Many researchers tend to say that a combination of the two methods would be the most effective solution.


It is important to find the cause of why we eat too much food in the evening. A dietitian can be an ally in detecting the signs of this eating disorder and offering the resources and help needed to find solutions to the problem.

Karine Drouin RD, dietitian



  1. Cleator, J., Abbott, J., Judd, P. et al. (2012). Night eating syndrome: implications for severe obesity. Nutr & Diabetes 2, e44.

  2. Walden Behavioral Care. (n.d). Night Eating Syndrome. Retrouvé le 13 décembre 2021 au

  3. Costello Allison, K., and Tarves, E. (2011). Treatment of Night Eating Syndrome.Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 34(4): 785–796.

  4. Albert J Stunkard, A.J., Costello Allison, K. (2003). Two forms of disordered eating in obesity: binge eating and night eating. International Journal of Obesity

O’Reardon, J.P., Kelly, C.A., Nicole, S.M. (2006). A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Sertraline in the Treatment of Night Eating Syndrome. The American Journal of Psychiatry. Retrouvé le 13 décembre 2021 au

Image retrouvée le 1er mars 2022 en ligne au

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