There is little doubt as to the adverse physical effects of being overweight or obese. Obesity increases cardiovascular disease risk factors, Type 2 Diabetes, and overall mortality. Current approaches to addressing this epidemic have included combined dietary and physical activity approaches and of late, behavioral strategies to influence the weight loss process such as motivation strategies. However, it appears the more time that elapses between the end of a diet and the follow-up period, the more weight is regained. While studies have examined factors that contribute to longer term weight maintenance, they still continue to highlight aspects relating to individual willpower and self-control (e.g. low-energy, low-fat and high carbohydrate diets; high intensity and frequent physical exercise, and self-weighing). It may be that comprehensive psychological treatment in conjunction with physical and dietary approaches is necessary, essential and the key to successful weight loss and maintenance, particularly for those individuals who find the self-control behaviors difficult to sustain. Psychological research which combines cognitive strategies with somatic procedures adapted from acupuncture and related systems for altering the cognitive, behavioral, and neurochemical foundations of psychological problems has been showing promise in the weight loss field. Often referred to as “psychological acupuncture”, research examining meridian-based procedures (e.g. Emotional Freedom Techniques, EFT) for food cravings has found significant improvements occurred in weight, body mass index, food cravings, an individual’s perceived power of food, their craving restraint and psychological coping from pre- to 12-months after a 4-week treatment. When compared to traditional approaches (e.g. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT), pilot studies have indicated EFT is more significant in explaining differences over time between food craving measures, than CBT treatment. This chapter highlights the common psychological concerns that are present in many overweight and obese individuals and offers a structured, practical approach to using EFT to resolve them. Future research directions are discussed and case studies are offered to demonstrate its clinical application.
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