Hypnosis: An Effective Weight Loss Tool?


Image courtesy of Иван Дерусов. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mzm.dzxqpqpo.png

Hypnosis always seemed to me like a quack technique.  I was very skeptical that it would have any place as a scientifically founded weight loss technique.  However, there is some intriguing research into hypnosis as a weight loss tool.

Barabsz and Spiegel in 1989 were able to demonstrate that a certain form of hypnotic suggestion did perform significantly better than a control in weight loss among overweight women. There was a 5.1 kg difference over a 90 day time period.  This hypnotherapy depended on specific food aversion, but did show that is it possible for hypnosis to help with weight loss, however it relied on a relatively small sample size of only 45 women. This study also showed as expected that people who tested higher on hypnotizability had more success with hypnotherapy.(1).

This seems to fit in well with earlier research in 1985 by Bolocofsky, Spinler, and Coulthard-Morris in which they were also able to demonstrate a significant difference between the intervention group that received hypnotherapy and the control group.  Furthermore weight loss continued even after termination of treatment.  And a larger portion of patients reached their goal weight by the two-year follow up.  This is also a larger study involving 100 overweight women.  (2).

What’s important to note with both of these studies is that they are used alongside other behavior modification tools.  This suggests that if you want to try hypnotherapy it will be most useful if it is combined with some other form of feed back such as trend line dieting.

  1. Barabasz, Marianne, and David Spiegel. “Hypnotizability and weight loss in obese subjects.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 8.3 (1989): 335-341.
  2. Bolocofsky, David N., Dwayne Spinier, and Linda Coulthard-Morris. “Effectiveness Of Hypnosis As An Adjunct To Behavioral Weight Management.” Journal Of Clinical Psychology 41.1 (1985): 35-41. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 July 2016.


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