Citation (APA style): Stapleton, P., Roos, T., Mackintosh, G., Sparenburg, E., Sabot, D., & Carter, B. (2019). Online delivery of Emotional Freedom Techniques in the treatment of food cravings and weight management: A randomised controlled trial. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, 4(4).
Background: The combination of dietary restraint and physical exercise as a recommended treatment for weight loss has had limited long-term success. One factor proposed as limiting weight management techniques efficacy is the failure to target psychological processes linked with overeating. Consistent with prior research that has identified the efficacy of emotional freedom techniques (EFT) in reducing food cravings and aiding weight loss, this pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) examined the impact of online delivery of EFT intervention on food cravings and weight management.
Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to an eight-week online EFT intervention group or waitlist control group. The sample comprised primarily of women (96%) aged between 41 and 60 years. Of the treatment group, 65% consumed their craved foods daily and had an average Body Mass Index in the obese range (33.3). Outcome measures assessed included food cravings, dietary restraint, subjective power of food, weight, somatic (body sensation), anxiety, and depressive symptoms.
Results: Post-intervention analyses revealed significant reductions on all measures for participants in the EFT condition (n = 314) with Cohen’s effect size values suggesting moderate to high practical significance for the online intervention. However, there were no significant differences for participants in the waitlist control group (n = 137). In this crossover study design, post-test waitlist data was then collapsed into the EFT treatment group data for follow-up analyses, which indicated treatment gains on all measures at 6-month (n = 216) and 12-month (n = 145) follow-up.
Conclusions: Findings constitute preliminary support for the utility of online EFT as an accessible tool to assist the management of food cravings and body weight.