Acupuncture is increasingly popular for overweight and obesity treatment 1,2. Various systematic reviews on acupuncture for weight management have been published with contradicting conclusions. This study is aimed to investigate the weight management effects and safety of acupuncture for adults by systematically review the existing systematic reviews on manual acupuncture (MA) and/or electroacupuncture (EA) for overweight and obesity.
An extensive search on thirteen databases was to identify available systematic reviews. Systematic reviews evaluated randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on MA and EA for weight management for adults were included regardless of language. All RCTs from the included studies were further screened according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews was used to assess the quality of the included systematic reviews. The risk of bias of the included RCTs was evaluated by the Cochrane handbook’s risk of bias assessment tool. RevMan 5.3 software was used for the meta-analyses of the end of treatment body weight and body mass index.
The search yielded thirteen medium to high-quality systematic reviews and twenty-three RCTs for data analyses. No severe adverse events were reported from the included studies. The identified ten most frequently used acupuncture points for weight loss are located on the abdominal and lower limb, which are from the Spleen, the Stomach, and the Ren meridian. The meta-analyses of the included RCTs showed that acupuncture could reduce body weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) when combined with a weight management co-intervention (such as diet, exercise or diet and exercise).
The findings of this study suggest that acupuncture can provide an add-on effect for reducing body weight and BMI when combing with a co-intervention. However, more rigorously designed RCTs are needed to provide a solid conclusion.