Association of participants who screened positive for night eating syndrome with physical health, sleep problems, and weight status in an Australian adult population

Publication Name

Eating and Weight Disorders


Background: Night eating syndrome (NES) is a unique eating disorder characterised by evening hyperphagia and nocturnal ingestions which cause significant distress and/or impairment in functioning. Despite the growing literature, NES remains poorly understood and under diagnosed. As such, this study aims to compare the prevalence of physical health conditions in participants with NES when compared to participants without an eating disorder (ED) and participants with other eating disorders (including anorexia nervosa (AN), binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN)) in a general population Australian sample of adults. Methods: The data for this study were obtained from the 2017 Health Omnibus Survey (HOS) a multi-stage, cross-sectional survey, conducted by Harrison Research in South Australia. This current study focused on 2547 participants over 18 years of age and specific questions from this population survey including those related to participant demographics and health. Results: This study identified that participants who screened positive for night eating syndrome (spNES) when compared to participants with other eating disorders (ED) or no ED diagnosis, were significantly more likely to have an increased age, be female, have lower levels of education and have lower household income. Additionally, the spNES group was significantly associated with sleep apnoea (p = 0.031), insomnia or other sleep problems (p < 0.0001), increased BMI (p < 0.0001), increased levels of pain/discomfort and lower physical health-related quality of life. Hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes were not significantly associated with the spNES group or the “other ED” group which included participants with AN, BED, BN. Conclusions: Several physical health problems were found to be significantly associated with the spNES group including sleep problems, increased BMI, increased levels of pain and lower self-reported physical health-related quality of life. Consequently, future research exploring the complex interaction between NES and these medical conditions may provide further insight into the diagnosis, screening tools and management of NES. Additionally, this study highlights the need for future studies which use larger population-based samples. Level of evidence: Level III. Evidence obtained from well-designed cohort or case–control analytic studies.

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University of Western Sydney



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