Weight Loss & Acupuncture

Struggling with weight loss? How can acupuncture help? 

Written by Janice Yip – Acupuncturist & Dietitian

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.” (World Health Organisation, 2020, What are obesity and overweight section, para. 1). Obesity increases the incidence of many other chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders and some cancers (World Health Organisation, 2020). As outlined by WHO (2020) , the cause of overweight and obesity is often the energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expanded, leading to excessive accumulation of fat in the body. The current management of obesity includes lifestyle modification (diet and physical activity), bariatric surgery, psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy (Mendonca et al. 2019). 

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Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) View 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) point of view, excess weight is often the result of an imbalance in the internal body system which leads to poor regulation and digestion of food and the accumulation of dampness in the body (Sui et al. 2012). Acupuncture is a complementary and alternative therapy that involves the use of ultra fine needles inserted into specific points on the body. It aims to regulate the body and restore balance using TCM theory. 

The Effect of Acupuncture of Weight Reduction

According to research, acupuncture alone in addition with lifestyle modification has a significant effect on weight loss, BMI and waist circumference. 

A study by Yao et al. (2019), showed the group of patients who had acupuncture had significant reduction in BMI and waist circumference compared to the group who had sham acupuncture or no intervention at all. The group who had acupuncture plus diet and exercise also experienced significant weight loss compared to diet and exercise alone. However, the study found that acupuncture plus exercise had no effect on weight loss compared to only exercise. 

Another study by Mendonca et al (2019) showed that auriculotherapy, which is the stimulation of points on the ear using acupuncture, also had a significant effect on weight loss and reduction of BMI. Auricular points such as Shen Men, Stomach, Endocrine and Hunger were the ones commonly used. Other points including Mouth, Small Intestine, Spleen, San Jiao, Colon, Centre of the ear were also used. This was a first systematic review and meta-analysis that investigated auriculotherapy as opposed to acupuncture on the body. 

Sui et al (2012) also supported acupuncture having greater efficacy in reducing body weight compared to no treatment and compared to Western medications such as sibutramine, fenfluramine and orlistat. 

cosmetic acupuncture in balwyn north

What’s the Verdict?

Some limitations of this research includes the limited number of articles in the systemic reviews and also some included studies were poor quality, affecting the strength of the evidence. Also, one article had a sole focus on the Asian population only. Larger studies and the use of higher quality articles would be needed to further strengthen the findings from these studies. 

The use of acupuncture and/or auriculotherapy appears to have a significant effect on weight reduction and can enhance weight loss when combined with both diet and exercise intervention. 

If you are struggling with your weight and would like to find out more about acupuncture please email our acupuncturist at janice.y@kobodi.com or alternatively you can book online through the link below or by calling us at 03 9816 3589. 


Mendonça, C., Coelho dos Santos, L., Noll, M., Silveira, E., & Arruda, J. (2019). Effects of auriculotherapy on weight and body mass index reduction in patients with overweight or obesity: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 38, 101069. https://doi.org/10/1016/j.ctcp.2019.101069. 

Sui, Y., Zhao, H., Wong, V., Brown, N., Li, X., & Kwan, A. et al. (2012). A systematic review on use of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture for treatment of obesity. Obesity Reviews, 13(5), 409-430. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-789x.2011.00979.x

World Health Organisation. (2020). Obesity and overweight. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight. 

Yao, J., He, Z., Chen, Y., Xu, M., Shi, Y., Zhang, L., & Li, Y. (2019). Acupuncture and weight loss in Asians. Medicine, 98(33), e16815. https://doi.org/10.1097/md.0000000000016815


Our Dietitian/Acupuncturist

Janice Yip Acupuncturist Balwyn North

Janice Yip


BNutriDiet / MAppSci (Acu), APD & AACMA

Janice is a Registered Acupuncturist and an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD).
She graduated from Master of Applied Science (Acupuncture) at RMIT University and holds a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics from Monash University.
She has previously worked as a dietitian at various Healthscope hospitals and rehabilitation centre and currently provides dietetic services in aged care and client’s home. She specialises in nutrition in the elderly, with over 7 years of experience.
Janice has a special interest in combining acupuncture and nutrition in improving client’s health, and empowering them to make healthier choices for their own health and wellbeing. And supporting them through the journey. Areas of interest: in women’s health, gastrointestinal conditions and weight management.
Outside of work, she enjoys weight training at a gym, going for walks and baking.
She is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
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Experience acupuncture for weight management at Kobodi Wellness Studio in Balwyn North

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