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11 July 2012
Weight gain from quitting smoking underestimated

Quitting smoking is associated with an average weight gain of nearly 5 kg after 12 months, a higher figure than previously thought but medicos say the health benefits of quitting far outweigh this gain in body weight.

The new estimates, appearing in the British Medical Journal, are from a team of researchers based in the UK and France that assessed weight change among successful quitters - with and without the help of nicotine replacement therapy - after 12 months.

In untreated quitters, the average weight gain was 1.1 kg at one month, 2.3 kg at two months, 2.9 kg at three months, 4.2 kg at six months, and 4.7 kg at 12 months. Weight gain for people using nicotine replacement therapy were similar.

The new figures are higher than the frequently quoted 2.9 kg weight gain estimate and considerably higher than the 2.3 kg many female smokers report being willing to tolerate, say the researchers.

Interestingly, the changes in body weight varied widely, with around 16 percent of quitters losing weight and 13 percent gaining more than 10 kg after 12 months. This, say the authors, indicates that the average value does not reflect the actual weight change of many people who give up smoking.

The researchers suggest that further research is needed to identify the people most at risk of gaining weight and to clarify the best way to prevent continued weight gain after quitting.

Discuss this article in our forum
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Source: British Medical Journal

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