(HealthDay News) – Acupuncture treatments are effective for short-term weight loss in overweight Koreans, according to a study published online Dec. 16 in Acupuncture in Medicine.

Sujung Yeo, MD, from Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving 91 Koreans with a body mass index (BMI) ≥23kg/m² to compare the efficacy of the five ear acupuncture points generally used in Korean clinics for treating obesity with the Hunger acupuncture point. Participants were randomly allocated in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive unilateral auricular acupuncture with indwelling needles at five ear acupuncture points (treatment I), at the Hunger point only (treatment II), or to receive acupuncture at the five ear points but have the needles removed immediately after insertion (sham control) — all weekly for eight weeks.

The researchers observed significant differences in BMI, weight, and body fat mass between the treatment and control groups at eight weeks among the 58 patients providing data at the end of the study. The reductions in BMI were 6.1% and 5.7%, respectively, in treatment groups I and II (P<0.004) compared to the control group. No significant differences were seen between the treatment groups.

“Both five-needle acupuncture treatment generally used in Korean clinics and one-needle treatment at the Hunger point appear to be effective in reducing body weight in the short term,” the authors write.

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