Ears to weight-loss

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 70.0 per cent of Australian males and 56.2 per cent of females are overweight or obese. That is a cosmetic issue for some people but for others carrying excess weight has definite health consequences. While there is debate about exactly how meaningful measures like the BMI are in estimating healthy weight, there is no debate that being overweight is unhealthy and it is no surprise that an ever-growing amount of consumer spending is being directed towards getting thinner and healthier. During 2013-14, Australians are predicted to spend $643.7 million on weight-loss counselling services, low-calorie foods, and dietary supplements in their quest for weight loss. This is up 3.6 per cent from the previous year, and over the past five years growth in the weight loss industry has been at around 2.8 per cent. There are lots of new potions and pills that promise miraculous weight loss results and the next fad diet is only just around the corner (could it be the “Anchovy Diet” a diet entirely based on small salted fish that is so unappetising that proponents end up preferring to live on nothing at all?). As well as the new offerings however, there are also ancient medicines that offer help with weight loss, such as acupuncture.

Acupuncture was the subject of a new study that involved both men and women, all with a BMI above 23. None of the subjects had used weight loss or weight control measures in the last six months. The subjects were then randomly divided into three groups. One group had a five point acupuncture treatment on the ears, another had a one-point ear acupuncture treatment, while the third received a “sham” acupuncture treatment.

The five-point acupuncture group had five small needles inserted into the Shen-men, stomach, spleen, and endocrine points on one ear. The needles were covered with surgical tape and left in place for a week. This process was then repeated in the other ear and then reverted to the original ear and so on, for eight weeks. The second group only had one needle inserted at the “hunger point” on the ears. The “sham” treatment thought they had needles being implanted but in reality the needles were removed immediately after being put in place but the tape covered the lack of needles.

After the eight weeks of treatment the “sham” treatment group showed no improvement in BMI. Those who had the one point treatment showed a 5.7 per cent reduction in BMI and those on the five-point treatment showed a 6.1 per cent reduction in BMI. The five-point group also showed reduction in measures of body fat. The researchers said that the five-point treatment also appeared to be more effective in reducing waist circumference and abdominal fat.

Walking around for eight weeks with surgical tape on your ears may sound a bit socially challenging but if anybody needles you about it, just remind yourself of the svelte waistline that awaits.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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