Acupuncture for the treatment of obesity in adults

Postgraduate Medical Journal — Zhang RQ, et al. | July 13, 2017

This investigation was carried out to gauge the clinical efficacy of acupuncture therapy for simple obesity. It also focused on yielding evidence–based medical data for treating obesity with acupuncture. The obtained findings displayed that acupuncture for simple obesity, appeared to be an effective therapy. Nonetheless, additional research was necessitated with regard to the safety of acupuncture when used to treat simple obesity.


  • The scheme of this trial was a comprehensive search.
  • Data was extracted from studies on MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Chinese databases (Wan Fang,CNKI and VIP) from 1 January 1915 through 30 November 2015 (MEDLINE search updated through 31 December 2015).
  • Only randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that used acupuncture and sham acupuncture to treat simple obesity were included for this research.
  • The effect of acupuncture on simple obesity was estimated through body mass index (BMI), body fat mass (BFM), waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), and body weight (BW). The Jadad scale evaluated methodological quality.
  • The random effects model, in the pooled analysis adjusted for the heterogeneity of the included studies.
  • Funnel plots analyzed the publication bias.
  • The variations between treatment groups were reported as mean differences (MD).


  • A sum of eleven RCTs were selected after all relevant literature from the electronic databases had been screened.
  • There were 338 and 305 candidates in the acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups, respectively.
  • Auricular and electro acupuncture were both able to lower the BMI in obese patients (MD 0.47 kg/m2, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.58, p<0.001; MD 0.50 kg/m2, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.62, p<0.001).
  • BFM change after acupuncture treatment compared with sham treatment was statistically significant (MD 0.66 kg, 95% CI 0.51 to 0.80, p<0.001).
  • Prominent variations were brought to light in WC and HC, between the acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups (MDwc2.02 cm, 95% CI 0.21 to 3.83, p=0.03; MDHC2.74 cm, 95% CI 1.21 to 4.27, p=0.0004).
  • BW was not statistically markedly different between the acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups (MD 0.60 kg, 95% CI -0.20 to 1.39, p=0.14).
  • Begg’s test and funnel plots illustrated that the potential publication bias of the included studies was very slight (p>0.05).

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