Effects of Self-Conditioning Techniques (Self-Hypnosis) in Promoting Weight Loss in Patients with Severe Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Sep;26(9):1422-1429. doi: 10.1002/oby.22262.


Objective: The usefulness of the rapid-induction techniques of hypnosis as an adjunctive weight-loss treatment has not been defined. This randomized controlled trial evaluated whether self-conditioning techniques (self-hypnosis) added to lifestyle interventions contributed to weight loss (primary outcome), changes in metabolic and inflammatory variables, and quality of life (QoL) improvement (secondary outcomes) in severe obesity.

Methods: Individuals (with BMI = 35-50 kg/m2 ) without organic or psychiatric comorbidity were randomly assigned to the intervention (n = 60) or control arm (n = 60). All received exercise and behavioral recommendations and individualized diets. The intervention consisted of three hypnosis sessions, during which self-hypnosis was taught to increase self-control before eating. Diet, exercise, satiety, QoL, anthropometric measurements, and blood variables were collected and measured at enrollment and at 1 year (trial end).

Results: A similar weight loss was observed in the intervention (-6.5 kg) and control (-5.6 kg) arms (β = -0.45; 95% CI: -3.78 to 2.88; P = 0.79). However, habitual hypnosis users lost more weight (-9.6 kg; β = -10.2; 95% CI: -14.2 to -6.18; P < 0.001) and greatly reduced their caloric intake (-682.5 kcal; β = -643.6; 95% CI: -1064.0 to -223.2; P = 0.005) in linear regression models. At trial end, the intervention arm showed lower C-reactive protein values (β = -2.55; 95% CI: -3.80 to -1.31; P < 0.001), higher satiety (β = 19.2; 95% CI: 7.71-30.6; P = 0.001), and better QoL (β = 0.09; 95% CI: 0.02-0.16; P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Self-hypnosis was not associated with differences in weight change but was associated with improved satiety, QoL, and inflammation. Indeed, habitual hypnosis users showed a greater weight loss.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02978105.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / therapy*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02978105