According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 97.1 million adults are overweight, and 39.8 million of those people also meet the criteria for obesity. Approximately 280,000 deaths and 39.3 million missed workdays are attributable to obesity each year.
While Americans spend $33 billion annually on weight-loss products and services, the prevalence of obesity increased by almost 30 percent between 1991 and 2000. Those seeking an alternative to diet fads and short-term solutions are turning to lifestyle changes that often include the use of acupuncture and tai chi.
When attempting to diet, many people experience withdrawal, or cravings, because of a lack of endorphins. The need to eat is often so strong that dieters binge on food. This is one reason why diets often cause people to gain more weight rather than lose it.
Acupuncture and tai chi counterbalance these cravings by releasing endorphins in the brain, which actually alleviate the withdrawal symptoms many dieters experience and eventually succumb to.
Weight gain can also be caused by stress, which increases cortizol levels in the body. This increase in cortizol can alter metabolism, thus causing stressed people to gain weight. As with cravings, the endorphins released by acupuncture and the gentle motions of tai chi also help reduce stress, which can reduce the need to overeat.
In addition to regulating the body internally, tai chi also provides the benefits of exercise by building strength, restoring balance and increasing flexibility. Tai Chi's gentle movements and low physical impact make it a great activity for aging bodies, those recovering from injury, or people looking to change up their exercise routine.
Both tai chi and acupuncture can also stimulate the hyopthalamus. This induces weight loss because the hypothalamus regulates the body's thyroid and hormone levels, which in turn regulate metabolism.