Emotional Freedom Techniques for food cravings in overweight adults: A comparison of treatment length

Citation (APA style):  Stapleton, P., & Chatwin, H. (2018). Emotional Freedom Techniques for food cravings in overweight adults: A comparison of treatment length. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, 3(3).


Background: Because patients vary in their response to treatment, including adherence, the effect of treatment length in the use of EFT on food cravings was examined by comparing retrospective data from two studies in order to ascertain if shorter programs are as effective. This may then impact treatment adherence and completion.

Methods: In study one, 96 overweight and obese adults were randomly allocated to a 4-week treatment for their food craving or waitlist condition. In study two, an 8-week EFT program for 47 adults, the same variables were measured as per study one. Participants were assessed for degree of food craving, perceived power of food, restraint capabilities and psychological symptoms at pre-, post-, 6- and 12-month follow-up.

Results: Outcomes indicated significant reductions in food cravings, subjective power of food, dietary restraint, Body Mass Index, and weight for both interventions. There were no significant differences between the intervention groups in terms of the effect size of outcomes for the variables measured, thus indicating that the 4-week EFT treatment could achieve the outcomes that the 8-week program did.

Conclusions: While the efficacy of EFT as an adjunct to standard dietary and exercise programs has been established through several clinical trials, it has not been clear as to the optimal length of program required to achieve successful results. This comparison of a brief 4-week (8-hour) program versus an 8-week (16-hour program) indicated significant reductions in all measures for both intervention lengths. Length of treatment may be important when considering adherence and motivation.

Keywords: Emotional Freedom Techniques; brief therapy; weight loss; food cravings; obese; adults; Tapping

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