Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Distinguishing between statistical and clinical significance in a meta-analysis of acupuncture for obesity: avoiding miscommunication of study findings
  1. Samuel P Trethewey
  1. Clinical Research Team, Oak Tree Surgery, Liskeard, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Samuel P Trethewey, Oak Tree Surgery, Liskeard, UK; s-trethewey{at}

Statistics from

I was interested to read the abstract of a recent systematic review and meta-analysis, published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, which concluded: “The review suggests that acupuncture is an effective therapy for simple obesity rather than a placebo effect. This potential benefit needs to be further evaluated by longer-term and more rigorous RCTs”.1 Whilst I must commend the authors for attempting to progress our understanding of potential therapies for the treatment of obesity in adults, I have several issues with this paper. Aside from the methodological considerations, as highlighted in a recent letter to the editor,2 I would like to draw attention to the wider issues surrounding the communication of the results of this study.

In the abstract by Zhong et al,1 the authors state: “When compared with sham acupuncture, acupuncture showed obviously effect in BMI reduction (MD=1.0 kg/m2, 95% CI=0.6 to 1.4, p<0.001). There was also significant reduction in body weight (MD=1.85 kg, 95% CI=0.82 to 2.88, p<0.001), WC (MD=0.97 cm, 95% CI=0.24 to 1.71, p=0.01) and body fat mass percentage (MD=1.01, 95% CI=0.25 to 1.77, p<0.05)”. My …

View Full Text


  • Contributors SPT was the sole contributor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.