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Does hypnotherapy work for weight loss?

Hypnosis may be more effective than diet and exercise alone for people looking to lose weight. The idea is that the mind can be influenced to change habits like overeating. However, exactly how effective it may be is still up for debate.

One earlier controlled trial examined the use of hypnotherapy for weight loss in people with obstructive sleep apnea. The study looked at two specific forms of hypnotherapy versus simple diet advice for weight loss and sleep apnea. All 60 participants lost 2 to 3 percent of their body weight in 3 months.

At the 18-month follow-up, the hypnotherapy group had lost another 8 pounds on average. The researchers concluded that while this additional loss wasn’t significant, hypnotherapy warranted more research as a treatment for obesity.

An analysis that included hypnotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for weight loss showed that it resulted in a small reduction in body weight compared with the placebo group. Researchers concluded that while hypnotherapy may enhance weight loss, there isn’t enough research for it to be convincing.

It’s important to note that there isn’t much research in support of hypnosis alone for weight loss. Much of what you’ll find is about hypnotherapy in combination with diet and exercise or counseling.