Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research brings Harvard Psychiatrist and author Alvin Poussaint to Portland on June 24th

Self-acupressure technique shows promise in pilot study

April 30, 2008 (Portland, OR.) – Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research has received a $2.1 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to study the effectiveness of a technique combining self-acupressure with mental imagery to help people maintain weight loss.

The Center is seeking about 500 overweight people to participate in the LIFE study which will test the Tapas Acupressure Technique™ (TAT). TAT involves lightly touching specific pressure points on your face and the back of your head. While holding these points for a few seconds or minutes you are asked to focus on a problem, in this case on losing weight or maintaining weight loss.

The technique was developed in 1994 by Tapas Fleming, a California acupuncturist. It has been used widely to treat trauma, stress and food allergies, but this is the first time it has been tested in a large clinical trial.

“The Tapas Acupressure Technique did show superiority in helping people maintain weight loss in a pilot study involving 90 participants,” says Charles Elder, MD, principal investigator and an internal medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Northwest. In the pilot study, the TAT group maintained greater weight loss than a social support group, and another group that practiced the Chinese exercise and breathing technique known as Qigong.

People who join the LIFE study will attend weekly group meetings for six months to learn how to lose weight by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Participants who lose at least 10 pounds during this first phase of the study will be randomly assigned to a social support group led by a weight loss counselor or to the Tapas Acupressure group led by a certified instructor. Over the next six months the groups will meet eight times. Once the meetings have stopped participants in both groups will be followed for another six months. Then the groups will be compared to determine which method helps people maintain their weight loss more effectively.

“If the results of the LIFE study show that TAT significantly improves weight loss maintenance, it could become a standard intervention in conventional medical care settings as well as health education programs,” says Elder. “It is a low-cost intervention that could appeal to many people who struggle with weight loss.”

People who are interested in participating in the LIFE study must be:

  • A Kaiser Permanente member
  • At least 30 years of age
  • Overweight with a body mass index of 30-50 (go to www.healthatoz.com and click on “Calculate Your BMI”)
  • Live in the metro Portland/Vancouver area

For more information about the LIFE study, call (503) 335-6345 or send an e-mail to LIFE@kpchr.org. To find out if you are eligible to participate in the study, go to www.kpLIFE.org.  

Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, founded in 1964, is a non-profit research institution whose mission is advancing knowledge to improve health. It has research sites in Portland OR; Honolulu, HI; and Atlanta, GA.

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