Research on weight loss

Below are hypnosis research abstracts related to weight loss.

Some of the abstracts come from, which is on the website of the NIH (National Institutes of Health). If you’re a research fan, it’s a great site with advanced search options. If you have any questions about how hypnosis helps people with weight loss, feel free to contact me.

One thing that shines through in weight loss research is that group hypnosis produces smaller success rates versus customized hypnosis for the individual.

If I were asked to design a group program for a research study, I would tackle the main problem in weight loss research: the generic nature of the hypnosis system.

I would get around that problem by adding in plenty of customization into the group system. If you’re a hypnotherapist reading this, you might say, “But William, there’s no way a group system can be customized enough to compete with private sessions.”

And I would reply, “Good point. And researchers can’t study private sessions, because other researchers wouldn’t be able to recreate the results. And if they can’t duplicate the great results, then the great results don’t count. That’s why researchers prefer to study generic systems.

But I would do my best to add more customization to get around the problem of a generic system. To really do it well, I think the weight loss study would require many more sessions than what researchers currently do. Though my version of the study would take longer, I believe this customized study would have a much higher success rate. And that means more people lose more weight and keep it off.

Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 54(4), Aug 1986, 489-492. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.54.4.489
Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, John

Investigated the effects of hypnosis as a treatment for weight loss among women. The sample consisted of 60 women (aged 20–65 yrs) who were at least 20% overweight and were not in any other treatment program. Six client variables (suggestibility, self-concept, quality of family origin, age of obesity onset, education level, and socioeconomic status [SES]) and 1 process variable (multimodal imagery) were analyzed in relation to the dependent variable (weight loss).

Two experimental groups, hypnosis plus audiotapes and hypnosis without audiotapes, and the control group were investigated for weight loss immediately after treatment and again after a 6-mo follow-up.

The primary hypothesis that hypnosis is an effective treatment for weight loss was confirmed, but the 7 concomitant variables and the use of audiotapes were not significant contributors to weight loss.

Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments–another meta-reanalysis.
J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996 Jun;64(3):517-9.
Kirsch I.
Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269-1020, USA.

In a 3rd meta-analysis of the effect of adding hypnosis to cognitive-behavioral treatments for weight reduction, additional data were obtained from authors of 2 studies, and computational inaccuracies in both previous meta-analyses were corrected.

Averaged across posttreatment and follow-up assessment periods, the mean weight loss was 6.00 lbs. (2.72 kg) without hypnosis and 11.83 lbs. (5.37 kg) with hypnosis. The mean effect size of this difference was 0.66 SD. At the last assessment period, the mean weight loss was 6.03 lbs. (2.74 kg) without hypnosis and 14.88 lbs. (6.75 kg) with hypnosis. The effect size for this difference was 0.98 SD. Correlational analyses indicated that the benefits of hypnosis increased substantially over time (r = .74).