The night-eating syndrome and obesity

Obes Rev. 2012 Jun;13(6):528-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00975.x. Epub 2012 Jan 4.


The rising prevalence of obesity is a global concern. Eating behaviour and circadian rhythm are proving to be important factors in the aetiology of obesity. The night-eating syndrome (NES) is characterized by increased late-night eating, insomnia, a depressed mood and distress. It is evident that prevalence is higher among weight-related populations than the general community. The exact relationship between this syndrome and obesity remains unclear. The reasons for the discrepancies found in the literature likely include varying diagnostic criteria and a wide range of study population characteristics. NES does not always lead to weight gain in thus certain individuals may be susceptible to night-eating-related weight gain. Weight loss through surgical and behavioural treatments has shown success in diminishing symptoms. The increasing literature associating obesity with circadian imbalances strengthens the link between the NES and obesity. Circadian genes may play a role in this syndrome. This review will examine different aspects of obesity in the context of the NES.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / psychology*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Syndrome