The Use of Self-Help Strategies in Obesity Treatment. A Narrative Review Focused on Hypnosis and Mindfulness

Curr Obes Rep. 2021 Sep;10(3):351-364. doi: 10.1007/s13679-021-00443-z. Epub 2021 May 29.


Purpose of review: The aim of this narrative review was to summarize the evidence evaluating the possibilities and limitations of self-hypnosis and mindfulness strategies in the treatment of obesity.

Recent findings: Psychological factors, such as mood disorders and stress, can affect eating behaviors and deeply influence weight gain. Psychological approaches to weight management could increase the motivation and self-control of the patients with obesity, limiting their impulsiveness and inappropriate use of food. The cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) represents the cornerstone of obesity treatment, but complementary and self-directed psychological interventions, such as hypnosis and mindfulness, could represent additional strategies to increase the effectiveness of weight loss programs, by improving dysfunctional eating behaviors, self-motivation, and stimulus control. Both hypnosis and mindfulness provide a promising therapeutic option by improving weight loss, food awareness, self-acceptance of body image, and limiting food cravings and emotional eating. Greater effectiveness occurs when hypnosis and mindfulness are associated with other psychological therapies in addition to diet and physical activity. Additional research is needed to determine whether these strategies are effective in the long term and whether they can be routinely introduced into the clinical practice.

Keywords: Hypnosis; Mindfulness; Obesity; Self-conditioning; Self-help.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Mindfulness*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Weight Loss