Treatment of the Night Eating Syndrome

  • Albert J. Stunkard
  • Kelly C. Allison


Treatment of the Night Eating Syndrome (NES) derives in large part from its delayed circadian rhythm of its food intake and neuroendocrine measures. The best established pharmacotherapeutic measures are the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Studies of the SSRIs have shown rapid normalization of the disordered circadian rhythms, with decreased evening hyperphagia and nocturnal ingestions and increased morning food intake. The serotonergic aspects of NES and its treatment have been supported by the response to another serotonergic agent, d-fenfluramine. There have also been reports of response of night eaters to topiramate. A more focused effort to alter the circadian rhythm has been phototherapy. Administration of bright light treatment in the morning has proven effective in controlling the night eating of a small number of patients. Two forms of psychotherapy have been reported. First, a study of Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) revealed a reduction in anxiety and evening appetite and increases in morning appetite. Second, a pilot study of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) of 25 night eaters found a decrease in evening hyperphagia, number of awakenings, and number of nocturnal ingestions. In addition, weight fell by 3.1 kg. Completers had a more favorable outcome than noncompleters.


Single Photon Emission Compute Tomography Circadian Rhythm Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Bulimia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Binge Eating Disorder


Body Mass Index


Cognitive Behavior Therapy


Hamilton Depression Rating Scale


Major Depressive Disorder


Night Eating Questionnaire


Night Eating Syndrome


Night Eating Symptom History and Inventory


Night Eating Symptom Scale


Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep


Progressive Muscle Relaxation


Quality of Life, Enjoyment, and Satisfaction Questionnaire


Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography


Sleep-Related Eating Disorder


Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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