An estimated 2.8 million Americans struggle with binge eating disorder.

People with the disorder often eat large amounts of food in a short period of time and feel guilty and unable to stop.

Now researchers want to know more about the role of the body’s sleep-wake cycles known as circadian clock.

Food fuels our body and gives us energy, but for thousands of Americans, eating is an unhealthy obsession.

“Binge eating disorder is the most prevalent eating disorder, and unfortunately there’s still very limited operations or targeted options,” said Francisco Romo-Nava, MD, PHD, Psychiatrist, Linder Center of Hope, University of Cincinnati.

Researcher Francisco Romo-Nava and his colleagues are working to learn how an individual’s body clock plays a part.

“Among the population, it’s estimated that between 10 and 15% of the population will be morning type, clearly morning types. Then most of the population will be intermediate types between 70, 75%, and only about five percent of the population is a true evening type,” said Dr. Romo-Nava.

Dr. Romo-Nava said a master circadian click in the brain feeds information to cells in the body triggering needs and responses like getting tired and hungry.

He said that past research suggests night owls might be more susceptible to binge eating behavior.

“Binge eating tends to occur in the second part of the day into the evening and night,” said Dr. Romo-Nava.

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The researchers want to know if readjusting the circadian rhythms of people with binge eating disorder could be an effective part of treatment.