The Effectiveness of Acupuncture in Obesity

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 3
Words: 872
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Bachelor

Treatment regimen

An article by de Matos et al. (2021) describes a regimen with two treatment groups, and one control group experienced a low-calorie diet. The first treatment group received Vaccaria mustard seeds, which acted on points in the ears. Physicians chose all points under the classical options proposed by Chinese medicine. The second treatment group went through the ASP golden needle procedures, located near the navel (zero point), at the point of aggression, psychosomatic points, and many others (Darbandi et al., 2014). The Lei et al. (2017) article talks about almost the same procedures: there was also a control group (no recipes) and a treatment group. Patients received needles on the abdomen (primarily), on points on both shins and legs, and the hands in the treatment group.

The treatment regimen in Lillingston et al. (2019) is slightly different from those already considered. The doctors worked with the AA (Auricular Acupuncture) and control groups. They included weekly diaries of feelings and moods in their studies for patients to record their food cravings. Physicians have used imitation gold needles from time to time. At the end of the experiment, all patients were carefully examined. Patients learned who was in which group during the investigation. 24 out of 28 participants from the control group, who did not experience the results of AA, subsequently agreed to the procedure.

Measurement Outcomes

Researchers (de Matos et al., 2021) divided outcomes into primary and secondary: weight and waist circumference were classified as primary, and height, body fat, BMI, and waist-to-height ratio were secondary. They measured the weight using special scales and concluded no statistically significant changes after a month-long experiment. The results of the waist circumference decrease showed no significant improvement; however, doctors were more positive. The article by Lei et al (2017) clearly noted positive changes in BMI, VAT volume (Visceral Adipose Tissue, W = 11.50, p = 0.006), waist circumference, hepatic fat fraction (t = -2.900, p = 0.012).

Scientists recorded a decrease in body mass index by 0.31. In addition, the subjects’ weight decreased by an average of 1.81 pounds. As all three studies have shown, the waist responds well to acupuncture, and Lillingston et al. (2019) subjects’ circumference waists decreased by an average of 4.64 inches. Diaries of feelings and moods allowed scientists to record that all subjects improved mood during the experiment, regardless of whether they were in the placebo or treatment groups. In addition, all participants noted a decrease in the tendency to crave sweets and salty foods. It allows readers to say that the conducted experiment helped obese people slightly improve their physical condition and their psychological state.


The content of the article de Matos et al. (2021) insists that gold needles (ASP needles) are more effective than other procedures for managing obesity. However, AA may be a good alternative for those who have contraindications to ASP or those who have recently suffered from this challenging procedure (Darbandi et al., 2014). ASP and AA allow the distribution of fat in the body, which prevents the development of type II diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases.

Ley et al. (2017) conclude that EA (Electroacupuncture) treatment is very effective. They obtained these results thanks to the extensive materials obtained through magnetic resonance imaging (Zhong et al., 2020). EA, according to experts, shows very high efficiency in the control of abdominal obesity in women. Similar results are displayed by Lillingston et al. (2019), who mainly investigated abdominal obesity. They did not use EA but concentrated on AA but got similar results. AA was able, in their opinion, to demonstrate its usefulness and effectiveness in reducing the waist in just six weeks of the experiment.

Significance of the Articles

All three articles are excellent examples of documented trials aimed at helping people with obesity. Of particular interest is the article by Lillingston et al. (2019) because the meaning of the procedure was not only to record the physical changes of patients. The scientists focused on broader issues such as eating habits, psychological cravings, binge eating, and depression (Zhong et al., 2020). Their diary idea showed how participation in such trials could raise patients’ self-esteem and make them feel better. They felt cared for and highly appreciated the help that doctors provided them. Over time, they noticed that their desire to eat high-calorie foods and satiate due to the bright taste decreased. They felt healthier even if they were in the control group, as participation in the trial seemed to give them strength. Almost all of the participants in the placebo group wanted to subsequently experience the results of acupuncture and not medical manipulations with imitating instruments and materials. It shows the importance and usefulness of the experiment for people.

Articles de Matos et al. (2021) and Lay et al. (2017) are aimed at the physical condition of patients and directly mathematical and statistical measurements, not related to their weight and volume of the figure. All three articles come to an unequivocal conclusion about the effectiveness of acupuncture in abdominal obesity. However, one should not forget that many people can have severe consequences from the procedure, so they need alternatives. In addition, acupuncture will only have a particularly noticeable positive effect if a special diet is observed.


Darbandi, M., Darbandi, S., Owji, A. A., Mokarram, P., Mobarhan, M. G., Fardaei, M., Zhao, B., Abdi, H., Nematy, M., Safarian, M., Parizadeh, M. R., Dabbaghmanesh, M. H., Abbasi, P., & Ferns, G. (2014). Auricular or body acupuncture: Which one is more effective in reducing abdominal fat mass in Iranian men with obesity: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders, 13(1).

de Matos, D. T., Santos, M. J., Moreira, A., Machado, J., & Vieira, A. (2021). Weight and abdominal adiposity loss with auricular acupuncture – a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Experimental Pathology, 2(3).

Lei, H., Chen, X., Liu, S., & Chen, Z. (2017). Effect of electroacupuncture on visceral and hepatic fat in women with abdominal obesity: A randomized controlled study based on magnetic resonance imaging. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(4), 285–294.

Lillingston, F., Fields, P., & Waechter, R. (2019). Auricular acupuncture associated with reduced waist circumference in overweight Women-A randomized controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2019, 1–7.

Zhong, Y. M., Luo, X. C., Chen, Y., Lai, D. L., Lu, W. T., Shang, Y. N., Zhang, L. L., & Zhou, H. Y. (2020). Acupuncture versus sham acupuncture for simple obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 96(1134), 221–227.