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Escitalopram for Treatment of Night Eating Syndrome: A 12-Week, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial

Vander Wal, Jillon S. PhD*; Gang, Catherine H. RD; Griffing, George T. MD; Gadde, Kishore M. MD

Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: June 2012 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 341–345
doi: 10.1097/JCP.0b013e318254239b
Original Contributions

The primary objective of this study was to examine the short-term effects of escitalopram on symptoms of night eating syndrome (NES) in a randomized controlled clinical trial. A total of 40 patients with NES were randomly assigned to double-blind treatment with escitalopram 20 mg (n = 20) or placebo (n = 20) for 12 weeks. Escitalopram was started at 10 mg/d with a dosage increase to 20 mg/d after 4 weeks; placebo dosing was identical. The primary end point was a mean change in total score of the Night Eating Questionnaire (NEQ). At 12 weeks, mean (SE) change in NEQ total score was −13.0 (1.6) and −10.6 (2.2) in the escitalopram and placebo groups, respectively (F1,37 = 2.5, P = 0.124). There was a marginal interaction effect between response to escitalopram and race (F1,34 = 4.0, P = 0.052), with a favorable effect for white patients (F1,20 = 6.0, P = 0.024) but not for black patients (F1,13 = 0.6, P = 0.453). Seven patients in the escitalopram group, compared with 6 patients in the placebo group, showed a 50% NEQ score reduction (P = 0.736). Sixteen patients in the escitalopram group and 12 patients in the placebo group no longer met NES criteria (P = 0.168). Twelve patients in the escitalopram group were classified as responders according to the Clinical Global Impression Improvement scale compared with 7 patients in the placebo group (P = 0.113). No significant between-group differences were found for weight, mood ratings, or adverse events. We conclude that escitalopram treatment for 12 weeks was not superior to placebo in reducing NES symptoms as measured by the NEQ.

From the Departments of *Psychology, †Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO; and ‡Obesity Clinical Trials Programme, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.

Received May 11, 2011; accepted after revision September 27, 2011.

Reprints: Kishore M. Gadde, MD, Obesity Clinical Trials Programme, Box 3292, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710 (e-mail:

This was an investigator-initiated study funded by Forest Research Institute via separate grants to Duke University (Dr Gadde) and Saint Louis University (Dr Vander Wal). The sponsor played no role in the study design, conduct, or data collection. Neither did the sponsor participate in data analysis or interpretation, or article preparation. However, the sponsor had the opportunity to review the article before submission.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.