Is weight-loss hypnosis effective?

Answer From Brent A. Bauer, M.D.

Weight-loss hypnosis may help you shed an extra few pounds when it's part of a weight-loss plan that includes diet, exercise and counseling. But it's hard to say definitively because there isn't enough solid scientific evidence about weight-loss hypnosis alone.

Hypnosis is a state of inner absorption and concentration, like being in a trance. Hypnosis is usually done with the help of a hypnotherapist using verbal repetition and mental images.

When you're under hypnosis, your attention is highly focused, and you're more responsive to suggestions, including behavior changes that can help you lose weight.

A few studies have evaluated the use of weight-loss hypnosis. Most studies showed only slight weight loss, with an average loss of about 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms) over 18 months. But the quality of some of these studies has been questioned, making it hard to determine the true effectiveness of weight-loss hypnosis.

However, a recent study, which only showed modest weight loss results, did find that patients receiving hypnosis had lower rates of inflammation, better satiety and better quality of life. These might be mechanisms whereby hypnosis could influence weight. Further studies are needed to fully understand the potential role of hypnosis in weight management.

Weight loss is usually best achieved with diet and exercise. If you've tried diet and exercise but are still struggling to meet your weight-loss goal, talk to your health care provider about other options or lifestyle changes that you can make.

Relying on weight-loss hypnosis alone is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss, but using it as an adjunct to an overall lifestyle approach may be worth exploring for some people.

Dec. 14, 2018