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Online Delivery of Emotional Freedom Techniques for Food Cravings and Weight Management: 2-Year Follow-Up

Citation: Online Delivery of Emotional Freedom Techniques for Food Cravings and Weight Management: 2-Year Follow-Up
Stapleton, P., Lilley-Hale, E., Mackintosh, G., and Sparenburg, E., J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Nov 25. doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0309

Full PDF of paper available with free 30 day access at http://bit.ly/37G22gT

Abstract

Background: Growing obesity rates are a problem worldwide. Several studies of emotional freedom techniques (EFT), a brief psychophysiologic technique, have indicated that it may be a promising addition to traditional weight loss interventions.

Objective: The current study evaluated food cravings, dietary restraint, subjective power of food, weight changes, and self-reported symptoms (e.g., somatic, anxious, and depressive) 2 years after an 8-week online self-directed EFT intervention with additional online support.

Design: Participants were initially randomly allocated to a treatment or waitlist group. The treatment group was instructed to self-pace through an online EFT treatment program made up of seven modules throughout the 8-week intervention period, and the waitlist was also completed at the end of this period.

Results: Analyses of the online EFT intervention program indicated significantly reduced scores for food cravings (-28.2%), power of food (-26.7%), depression (-12.3%), anxiety (-23.3%), and somatic symptoms (-10.6%) from pre to postintervention and from pre (baseline) until the 2-year follow-up and significantly improved scores for restraint (+13.4%). Further improvements were experienced for carbohydrates and fast food cravings between 6 months and 2 years. Body Mass Index and weight significantly decreased from pre- to
12 months follow-up although there were no differences at the 2-year point.

Conclusions: As an online intervention program, EFT was very effective in reducing food cravings, perceived power of food, psychologic symptomatology, and improving dietary restraint and maintaining those improvements over a 2-year period. The addition of EFT to traditional weight loss interventions is timely and supported by this research.

Craig’s Notes:

Most noteworthy is the fact that this is the first known clinical EFT trial with a 2 year follow up, which is cause for celebration given that long term measurable results are significant for validating EFT’s effectiveness over time, especially with regards to reducing food cravings as a strategy for helping with weight loss. The study by Stapleton et al demonstrated EFT to be very effective in reducing food cravings, perceived power of food, dietary restraint and psychologic symptomatology (including anxiety and depressive symptoms) and maintaining improvements over a 2-year period.

Key study text:

  • “Participants’ improvements in food cravings, perceived power of food, depression, and somatic symptoms also remained improved
    at 2-year follow-up. For restraint capabilities, anxiety, BMI and weight, significant reductions occurred from baseline to 12 months’ follow-up, and while no significant changes occurred at the 2-year mark, the changes remained constant.”
  • “These findings suggest that due to the intervention, participants were unlikely to experience any further food cravings for previously desirable food nor other symptoms and, therefore, perhaps did not require ongoing intervention beyond the 8-week treatment period. These findings are consistent with previous research for in-person EFT treatment of food cravings, related eating pathology, and psychologic symptomatology.”

Of additional significance is that the study employed an online EFT intervention program over 8 weeks (7 modules of 32 videos complemented by offering an online Facebook participant support group) which is an important consideration for reaching individuals in rural areas and allows for a possible low cost intervention option.