Hypnosis & weight research


The research suggests that hypnosis is likely to be a valuable addition to a sustainable weight management program. As part of an integrated approach to managing your weight hypnosis can help by using a combination of visualisation, imagination and suggestion to realise goals. Depending on the cause of the weight issues hypnosis can be particularly effective when combined with a course of psychotherapy to help identify the root cause of the problem. Specifically, a number of studies indicate that when hypnosis is combined with a behavioral weight management program it contributes significantly to weight loss.

Specifically research published in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Kirsch, 1996) suggests that hypnosis combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) achieves greater weight loss results than CBT alone.

Johnson (1997) reported in a weight loss study of 50 smokers and 50 non smokers that both smokers and nonsmokers achieved significant weight losses and decreases in Body Mass Index. In particular the hypnosis program:

“yielded significantly lower post-treatment weights and a greater average number of pounds lost”

Despite these findings it should be noted that more research is needed in the field of hypnosis and weight loss. A number of studies show little significant correlation between hypnosis and weight reduction (Allison, et al., 2001). Typically weight loss is challenging in a therapeutic environment due to the often complicated factors behind the original weight gain. Nevertheless when hypnosis is combined with CBT or psychotherapy the research shows good results.



Allison, D.B., Fontaine, K.R., Heshka, S., Mentore, J.L. and Heymsfield, S.B.  (2001) Alternative Treatments for Weight Loss: A Critical Review. Critical Reviews In Food Science And Nutrition Vol. 41 , Iss

Andersen, M. S. (1985). Hypnotizability as a factor in the hypnotic treatment of obesity. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 33, 150-159. 

Barabasz, M., & Spiegel, D. (1989). Hypnotizability and weight loss in obese subjects. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 8, 3 3 5 - 3 4 1. 

Bolocofsky, D. N., Coulthard-Morris, L., & Spinier, D. (1984). Prediction of successful weight management from personality and demographic data. Psychological Reports, 55, 795-802. 

Bolocofsky, D. N., Spinler, D., & Coulthard-Morris, L. (1985). Effectiveness of hypnosis as an adjunct to behavioral weight management. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 41, 35-40. 

Cochrane, G., & Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492. 

Entwistle, P.A.,  Webb, R.J., Abayomi, J.C., Johnson, B., Sparkes, A.C., & Davies, I.G. (2014) Unconscious Agendas in the Etiology of Refractory Obesity and the Role of Hypnosis in Their Identification and Resolution: A New Paradigm for Weight-Management Programs or a Paradigm Revisited? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 62:3, 330-359.

Kirsch, I. (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments. Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 517-519. 

Kroger, W. (1970). Comprehensive management of obesity. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 12,165-176. 

Leon, G. R. (1976). Current directions in the treatment of obesity. Psychological Bulletin, 83, 557-578. 

McCabe, M. P., Jupp, J. J., & Collins, J. K. (1985). Influence of age and body proportions on weight loss of obese women after treatment. Psychological Reports, 56, 707-710. 

Mott, T. (1982). The role of hypnosis in psychotherapy. The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 24, 241-247. 

Stanton, H. E. (1975). Weight Loss through Hypnosis. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 18(1). 

Wadden, T. A., & Anderton, C. H. (1982). The clinical use of hypnosis. Psychological Bulletin, 91, 215-243.


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