Night eating syndrome (NES) is a delayed pattern of energy intake. It is unknown if symptoms associated with this syndrome are accompanied by a delayed pattern of physical activity. This study examines the relationship between physical activity patterns and delayed eating behaviors in children. Children from the QUALITY cohort (n = 269, 45% female, aged 8-11 y) completed the Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ), which measures NES symptoms on a continuous scale and identifies single NES symptoms. Daily accelerometer data were transformed into mean counts per wear-time minute for each hour of the day. Children with high NEQ scores had higher levels of daily (p < 0.001) and evening physical activity (p = 0.05) and reached 75% of their total daily physical activity 20 minutes later than children with low NEQ scores (p < 0.05). Excessive evening snacking and a strong urge to eat in the evening or at night were the symptoms most related to these physical activity patterns. Children with delayed eating behaviors had higher levels of physical activity in the late morning and evening and a delayed physical activity pattern compared to children with no or fewer symptoms. Future research is needed to determine if physical activity plays a role in the onset or maintenance of night eating.
Keywords: accelerometry; children; circadian; night eating syndrome; physical activity.