After decades of so-called “fad diets” (like the Adkins and South Beach), commercial diet “plans” (like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig), popular carb- and calorie-counting programs, and a slew of over-the-counter and prescription appetite suppressants (which can boast of only limited success), the trend today by those in the know is towards what may prove to be the most universally effective weight-loss method of all: hypnosis.  Today endorsed by a growing number of celebrities and popular figures like actor Orlando Bloom, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, and former Philadelphia Eagles coach Chuck Clausen, hypnosis is touted as having none of the constraints associated with fad diets and commercial diet plans, and none of the harmful side-effects common to appetite suppressants.  And while drawing a lot of attention from everyday people, most simply want to know, “But . . . does it work?”

According to nutrition and healthy eating guide editor Katherine Zeratsky of the world-famous Mayo Clinic, while the effectiveness question is difficult to answer definitively due to the lack of solid scientific evidence regarding weight-loss hypnosis specifically, studies have shown that when hypnosis is used in combination with a weight-loss plan that includes a thoughtful diet, exercise, and counseling, patients do indeed experience weight loss–averaging about six pounds.“Weight loss” is a battle individually fought, with a wide range of physical and mental factors at play: emotional state, diet history, physical condition, metabolism, genetic predisposition, and actual desire to lose weight–which is precisely why no single diet plan or pill works for everyone.

Studies have shown that individuals susceptible to hypnotic suggestion have achieved levels of success unachievable without hypnosis—and are able to keep the weight off longer.  (In at least one study, individuals who underwent hypnosis were able to keep the weight off two years after clinical treatment ended—which is an important measure of success.)  Additionally, the rate and degree of success has been shown to increase dramatically in clients who learn self-hypnosis as on ongoing, self-administered follow-up therapy–typically losing twice as much weight as those who didn’t.  And while results can vary greatly from individual to individual, those using hypnosis to lose weight have reported a number of supportive benefits including an increased ability to think and imagine a positive outcome, resist food cravings that in the past would have sent them on eating binges, enable them to resist long-established unhealthy eating patterns, and deal with relapses without losing faith in their ability to ultimately succeed.