Background: Night eating syndrome (NES) is characterized by evening hyperphagia and/or nocturnal ingestion. Objective: The main objective of this study was to assess the percentage of students complying with symptoms and behaviors consistent with the diagnostic criteria for NES, and explore its association with body mass index (BMI), dietary habits, physical activity, smoking status, and sleep patterns, among a sample of college students. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among a sample of 413 undergraduate students, mean age of 20.6 ± 1.68 SD, at Central Michigan University. Students completed an online survey including demographic information and the Night Eating Diagnostic Questionnaire (NEDQ) and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index Questionnaire (PSQI). Participants were grouped based on self-reporting of the presence and frequency of night eating-related symptoms and behaviors related to the diagnostic criteria for NES as follows: normal, mild night eater, moderate night eater, and full-syndrome night eater. Pearson’s Chi-squared, Student’s t test, and Wilcoxon rank-sum test were used to test the association between students with and without any night eating behavior in relation to BMI, lifestyle variables, and sleep duration/quality. Results: Results showed that the proportion of students complying with symptoms and behaviors consistent with full-syndrome of NES was 1.2%. There were no significant differences between students complying with symptoms and behaviors consistent with any level of NES and those without any night eating behavior regarding BMI, eating habits, physical activity, and smoking status. NES was significantly related to sleep duration (P = 0.023). Students complying with symptoms consistent with any level of NES reported shorter sleep time and had higher total PSQI score (6.73 ± 4.06) than students without the syndrome (5.61 ± 2.61) (P = 0.007). Conclusion: Although the percentage of students complying with full-syndrome NES was relatively low in our student sample, those students had shorter sleep time and poorer sleep quality than the other groups. However, it is unclear whether evening hyperphagia is a response to a lack of sleep or vice versa, and further research is needed. Level of Evidence: Level III, case-control analytic study.
- Eating disorders
- Night Eating Diagnostic Questionnaire
- Night eating syndrome
- Sleep quality
- University students