Background: Obesity is an energy balance problem caused by overeating. Obesity treatment includes diet, exercise, behaviour treatment, pharmacotherapy and surgery; in addition, acupuncture is also an option.
Objective: To investigate the effect of acupuncture on weight loss and whether a brief acupuncture treatment of 5 weeks can change circulating levels of leptin, ghrelin, insulin and cholecystokinin (CCK) in obese women.
Methods: 40 women with a body mass index (BMI)>30 kg/m(2) were equally randomised to either an acupuncture group or a sham (non-penetrating) acupuncture group and received treatment at LI4, HT7, ST36, ST44 and SP6 bilaterally. Both groups had two sessions of 20 min/week for a total of 10 sessions. Serum insulin, leptin, plasma ghrelin and CCK levels were measured by ELISA.
Results: Acupuncture treatment decreased insulin and leptin levels and induced weight loss, together with a decrease in BMI compared with sham acupuncture. Furthermore, between-group analyses demonstrated increases in plasma ghrelin and CCK levels in subjects who received acupuncture treatment.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that acupuncture may help to regulate weight owing to its beneficial effects on hormones such as insulin, leptin, ghrelin and CCK in obese subjects even after a few weeks of treatment.