Evaluation of effectiveness of Traditional Chinese acupuncture for treatment of obesity: A systematic review — ASN Events

Evaluation of effectiveness of Traditional Chinese acupuncture for treatment of obesity: A systematic review (#161)

Kang Xiao Li 1 , Angela Weihong Yang , Charlie C.L. Xue , George Binh Lenon
  1. RMIT University, Kensington, VIC, Australia

Aims:  Acupuncture has been used to treat obesity for many years in China and western countries; however there is a lack of evidence of its efficacy and safety. This study aim is to evaluate the safety and therapeutic benefits of traditional acupuncture treatment in the management of obesity in randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

Methods: The review was conducted according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews 5.1.0. The search was conducted in 22 electronic databases and via hand searching for all randomised controlled and quasi-randomised trials without language restrictions. Key words were acupuncture, obesity, overweight, randomized clinical trial and their synonyms. The risk of bias of included studies was assessed. The differences in effect size between traditional acupuncture and control groups including placebo, no treatment and dietary therapy/exercise were analysed using the Cochrane Collaboration's RevMan 5.1 software.

Result: A total of 5,805 potential studies were identified following the search and 5,745 of them were excluded after screening titles and abstracts. Eight studies satisfied the inclusion criteria and were included in this study. The total sample size is 965, ranging from 33 to 334 with an average of 120 per trial. The participants aged from 13 to 60 years old. The duration of treatment varied from 30 days to three months. Only two trials involved follow-up period after half  a  year and one year respectively.

All included RCTs had unclear or high risk of bias in all domains. Meta-analyses showed that acupuncture was more effective for reducing body weight and BMI than placebo, no treatment or dietary therapy/exercise for short-term effects.

Conclusions:  Although acupuncture appeared to be beneficial for reducing body weight and BMI in obesity patients , due to the high or unclear risk of bias and unexplained substantial heterogeneity, the results need to be interpreted with caution.