Night Eating Syndrome, or NES, is a relatively new eating disorder, characterized by an ongoing persistent pattern of late night eating. The diagnosis was first described by Dr Albert Stunkard in 1995 and is only being considered for inclusion in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ofMental Disorders.
No official diagnostic criteria exist for NES. The condition has not been formally defined as an eating disorder, which makes both diagnosis and treatment problematic, despite the fact that between 1 and 2 % of the population are affected by the condition. Treatment plans are in development only and the search for underlying causes, among them depression, low self esteem and hormonal imbalance, is only rudimentary.
NES is sometimes linked to other eating and sleeping disorders, and the debate continues if Nocturnal Sleeprelated Eating Disorder (a rare type of sleepwalking) and Night Eating Syndrome should be considered separate disorders. Common NES symptoms include skipping breakfast, consuming about 50% of daily calorie intake after dinner and waking up at least once a night for a high carb snack. Sufferers may be left with a feeling of worthlessness, shame and guilt.