Objective: To assess if hypnotherapy assists attempts at weight loss.
Design: Randomised, controlled, parallel study of two forms of hypnotherapy (directed at stress reduction or energy intake reduction), vs dietary advice alone in 60 obese patients with obstructive sleep apnoea on nasal continuous positive airway pressure treatment.
Setting: National Health Service hospital in the UK.
Measures: Weight lost at 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 months after dietary advice and hypnotherapy, as a percentage of original body weight.
Results: All three groups lost 2-3% of their body weight at three months. At 18 months only the hypnotherapy group (with stress reduction) still showed a significant (P < 0.02), but small (3.8 kg), mean weight loss compared to baseline. Analysed over the whole time period the hypnotherapy group with stress reduction achieved significantly more weight loss than the other two treatment arms (P < 0.003), which were not significantly different from each other.
Conclusions: This controlled trial on the use of hypnotherapy, as an adjunct to dietary advice in producing weight loss, has produced a statistically significant result in favour of hypnotherapy. However, the benefits were small and clinically insignificant. More intensive hypnotherapy might of course have been more successful, and perhaps the results of the trial are sufficiently encouraging to pursue this approach further.