Electroacupuncture reduces weight, skinfold thickness and waist circumference and increases skin temperature of the abdominal region in women: a randomized controlled trial

Acupunct Med. 2022 Oct;40(5):425-433. doi: 10.1177/09645284221077111. Epub 2022 Apr 18.


Background: Acupuncture, as a complementary and alternative medical treatment, has shown some promise as a therapeutic option for obesity and weight control. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on body weight, body mass index (BMI), skin fold thickness, waist circumference and skin temperature of the abdominal region in non-obese women with excessive abdominal subcutaneous fat.

Methods: A total of 50 women with excessive abdominal subcutaneous fat (and average BMI of 22) were randomly assigned to one of two groups: an EA group (n = 25) receiving 10 EA sessions (insertion of needles connected to an electrical stimulator at a frequency of 40 Hz for 40 min) and a control group (n = 25) that received no treatment. Outcome measures evaluated included waist circumference, supra-iliac and abdominal skinfolds, body composition and superficial skin temperature (measured by cutaneous thermography) before and after treatment.

Results: Compared with the untreated group, women in the EA group exhibited decreased supra-iliac and abdominal skin folds (p < 0.001), waist circumference (p < 0.001), percentage body fat (p = 0.001) and percentage abdominal fat (p < 0.001). In addition, the EA group showed an elevated skin temperature at the site of the treatment. However, EA did not significantly impact body weight (p = 0.01) or BMI (p = 0.2).

Conclusion: EA promoted a reduction in abdominal waist circumference, supra-iliac and abdominal skin folds, and percentage body and abdominal fat in women of normal BMI with excessive abdominal subcutaneous fat, as well as an increase in the superficial skin temperature of the abdominal region.

Trial registration number: RBR-9tsmpp (Brazilian Registry of Clinical Trials).

Keywords: electroacupuncture; skinfold; thermography; waist circumference; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Skin Temperature
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Waist Circumference