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Obes Rev. 2018 Nov;19(11):1585-1596. doi: 10.1111/obr.12747. Epub 2018 Sep 4.

Effect of acupuncture and intervention types on weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Biofunctional Medicine & Diagnostics, College of Korean Medicine, Graduate School, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Education, College of Education, Jeonju University, Jeonju, South Korea.
Department of Diagnosis and Biofunctional Medicine, Kyung Hee University Hospital at Gangdong, Seoul, South Korea.


This study aimed to evaluate the effect of acupuncture and intervention types on weight loss. We searched electronic databases, including Embase, PubMed, CENTRAL, RISS, KISS and CNKI, for randomized controlled trials that used acupuncture to treat obesity before June 2017. We found 27 trials involving 32 intervention arms and 2,219 patients. Acupuncture plus lifestyle modification (LM) was more effective than LM alone (Hedges' g = 1.104, 95% CI = 0.531-1.678) and sham acupuncture plus LM (Hedges' g = 0.324, 95% CI = 0.177-0.471), whereas acupuncture alone was not more effective than sham acupuncture alone and no treatment. Auricular acupuncture (Hedges' g = 0.522, 95% CI = 0.152-0.893), manual acupuncture (Hedges' g = 0445, 95% CI = 0.044-0.846) and pharmacopuncture (Hedges' g = 0.411, 95% CI = 0.026-0.796) favoured weight loss. Finally, acupuncture treatment was effective only in subjects with overweight (25 ≤ body mass index < 30, Hedges' g = 0.528, 95% CI = 0.279-0.776), not in subjects with obesity (body mass index ≥30). Our study suggests that the effect of acupuncture on weight loss may be maximized when auricular and manual acupuncture or pharmacopuncture treatment is combined with LM in patients with overweight.


Auricular; body mass index; lifestyle; sham

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