Does hypnosis for weight loss work?
There isn’t a ton of recent, randomized research available on the subject, but what is out there suggests that the method could be plausible. Early studies from the 90s found that people who used hypnosis lost more than twice as much weight as those who dieted without the cognitive therapy. A 2014 study worked with 60 obese women, and found that those who practiced hypnobehavioral therapy lost weight and improved their eating habits and body image. And a small 2017 study worked with eight obese adults and three children, all of whom successfully lost weight, with one even avoiding surgery due to the treatment benefits, but of course none of this is conclusive.
Who should try hypnosis for weight loss?
The ideal candidate is, honestly, anyone who has trouble sticking to a healthy diet and exercise program because they can’t seem to shake their negative habits, Gurniak says. Getting stuck in harmful habits—like eating the entire bag of potato chips instead of stopping when you’re full—is a sign of a subconscious problem, he says.
Your subconscious is where your emotions, habits and addictions are located, Friedmutter says. And because hypnotherapy address the subconscious—instead of just the conscious—it may be more effective. In fact, a study analysis from 1970 found hypnosis to have a 93 percent success rate, with fewer sessions needed than both psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. “This led researchers to believe that, for changing habits, thought patterns, and behavior, hypnosis was the most effective method,” Friedmutter says.
Hypnotherapy doesn’t have to be used on its own, either. Gurniak says hypnosis can also be used as a compliment to other weight loss programs designed by professionals to treat various health conditions, be it diabetes, obesity, arthritis, or cardiovascular disease.