According to American researchers, patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who are obese are more likely to have night eating syndrome (NES). They have found that up to 12 percent of obese schizophrenia patients suffer from NES, compared to just the 1.5 percent of the general population.
"These results highlight the need for improved assessment of this disordered eating pattern in [schizophrenia] patients," wrote Laura Palmese and colleagues from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry.
Researchers studied 100 outpatients with schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia. Sixty-one percent were female, and the group had an average age of 46.5 and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 38.2. Participants completed a Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ) and interview about their night eating patterns.
Night Eating Syndrome is defined by overeating at night (at least 25 percent of total food consumption), getting up in the night at least twice a week to eat, being aware of nighttime eating, impaired functioning and distress, and at least three of the following: strong desire to eat at night, insomnia, believing one must eat in order to sleep, or depressed moods in the evening. Symptoms must persist for a minimum of three months.
The NEQ reported that 8 percent of patients met full criteria for NES, and another 8 percent partially met criteria. The NEQ and clinical interviews showed that 12 percent of participants met NES criteria and another 10 percent had partial symptoms.
Depression and insomnia were also more common among those with night eating behaviors, with Beck Depression Inventory scores of 15.5 versus 10.0 for those who did not night eat, and Insomnia Severity Index scores of 12.3 versus 8.0.
"Our findings suggest that screening for NES among patients with serious mental illness may efficiently identify a subgroup with additional clinical needs," the researchers said.
Source: News Medical