Obesity is an epidemic health hazard associated with many medical conditions. Lifestyle interventions are foundational to the successful management of obesity. However, the body's adaptive biological responses counteract patients' desire to restrict food and energy intake, leading to weight regain. As a complementary and alternative medical approach, acupuncture therapy is widely used for weight control. The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of acupuncture treatment alone and in combination with lifestyle modification. We searched the publications available as of 24 October 2015 without language restriction. Eligible studies consisted of randomized controlled trials for acupuncture with comparative controls.
A total of 23 studies were included with 1808 individuals. We performed meta-analyses of weighted mean differences based on a random effect model. Acupuncture exhibited a mean difference of body mass index reduction of 1.742 kg/m2 (95% confidence interval) and 1.904kg/m2 (95% confidence interval) when compared with untreated or placebo control groups and when lifestyle interventions including basic therapy of both treatment and control groups. Adverse events reported were mild, and no patients withdrew because of adverse effects. Overall, our results indicate that acupuncture is an effective treatment for obesity both alone and together with lifestyle modification.
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