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Quit Smoking – Gain Weight – Still Better Off

Posted Jul 11 2012 2:30pm

I found this article about weight gain after you quit smoking over at the CBC Canada website and thought it was an interesting study. As I have written before, I smoked for many years and would actually put out my cigarette on my way into the gym but once I tackled my smoking habit over and over again I found that I finally quit smoking and have been more healthy now than ever.

I think that the excuse that you can gain weight after quitting smoking is a bit of a red herring but is always brought up. Tobacco is both an appetite suppressant and and a stimulant and so it can keep your weight down…But at a HUGE cost to your health.

The bold notes below are my comments on this article.

Quit smoking leads to an average weight gain of up to five kilograms in the first year, significantly more than previously thought, according to a new study.

Most of the kilos are piled on in the first three months, a team of medical researchers write in the online journal British Medical Journal, as another group stresses that the health benefits of far outweigh the risks of putting on weight.

For quitters who did not use nicotine replacement therapy, the average weight gain was 1.1 kilograms at one month, 2.3 at two, 2.9 at three, 4.2 at six months and 4.7 after a year, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said.

*Notice that the weight gain is front loaded as people are trying to fight nicotine cravings with food? I bet almost every ex-smoker will agree this is the case

This was “substantially higher than the 2.9 kilograms often quoted in smoking cessation advice leaflets,” write the team from France and Britain.

“Moreover, this mean weight gain is greater than the 2.3 kilograms gain that female smokers report being willing to tolerate, on average, before embarking on a quit attempt.”

Quit Smoking   Gain Weight   Still Better OffEarlier research showed that nicotine is an appetite suppressant and may increase the metabolic rate.

For the latest paper, the researchers collated data from earlier studies conducted between 1989 and 2011 in the United States, Europe, Australia and east Asia to assess weight changes among successful smoking quitters.

The researchers stressed that changes in body weight varied greatly, with about 16 per cent of those that quit smoking losing weight and 13 per cent gaining more than 10 kilograms in the first year.

*You would expect that these ex-smokers that lost weight made bigger lifestyle changes and smoking was one of the changes. Exercise and diet changes will turn your whole lifestyle around and are tough, but on the other side you feel like a new person just a few months later

In an editorial accompanying the paper, Associate Professor Esteve Fernández of the Universitat de Barcelona and Professor Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney say modest weight gain is far less life-threatening than smoking.

“Tobacco is the main cause of premature death worldwide, being responsible for 5.1 million deaths each year. Obesity, together with overweight, causes 2.8 million deaths,” they write.

I am more than happy to me an ex-smoker. I did not personally gain weight, I proved to myself that it is possible, and I became more serious about my other health habits. So I can say personally that I would urge anyone to quit smoking even if they are worried about a bit of weight gain. This is a large part of your health issues that you have control over and then you can use your quitting to accelerate yourself to better health.

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