Results of a 12-month study using the technique, which combines the painless, gentle tapping on pressure points while focusing on particular emotions and thoughts, show that the significant reduction of BMI in participants is concomitant with the reduced food cravings reported at six months and which have been maintained after 12 months.

Psychologist Dr Peta Stapleton, an academic title holder in Griffith University's School of Medicine who led the research, said she had been optimistic after six months that a reduction in food cravings would lead to a reduction in body weight or BMI.

"We now have solid data that shows there was a significant reduction in BMI from pre to post the 12 months study," she said.

"Psychological acupuncture therapy can have an immediate effect on reducing food cravings, result in maintaining reduced cravings over time, and impact upon BMI in overweight and obese individuals.

"This addition to weight loss and dietary programs may result in assisting people to achieve and maintain reduced food cravings and lose weight."

Findings at six months showed the impact on food cravings was almost immediate and long lasting, with food cravings reduced after just four, two-hour sessions.

Dr Stapleton said because the technique helps override emotional eating at a sub-conscious level, it was more likely to be effective in the long-term.

Psychological acupuncture has also been used to manage clinical issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, phobias and addictions.

The results of the study were presented at the International Congress of Applied Psychology in Melbourne in July 2010.