Want to Quit? Afraid of Weight Gain?

Smoking cessation often gets put off from fear of weight gain

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Scientists have not developed a foolproof way to quit smoking without gaining weight, but that’s no reason to keep smoking. Smoking has far greater health risks than the ten pounds you may gain.

A recent study followed women smokers as they attempted to quit smoking. The successful quitters did gain an average of 6 lbs. more than unsuccessful quitters.

Each woman voluntarily joined a trial to test whether the smoking cessation drug bupropion, brand name Zyban, would influence smoking-cessation weight-gain.

"Talk to your doctor about quitting smoking."

Michele D. Levine, PhD, and Marsha D. Marcos, PhD, professors of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine, teamed up to investigate weight gain concerns in female smokers wanting to quit. The women were randomly assigned to a group prescribed to take either 150mg of bupropion or a placebo. Neither the participants nor the drug administrators knew which drug they were taking.

Within those groups, women were split again into a standard smoking cessation intervention assistance group and a smoking cessation intervention group that also addressed weight concerns. Participants were asked to recall the last 24 hours of food consumption at the start of the trial, and after 1 and 6 months, and to weigh in at each of those times as well.

Results of the trial showed 22 percent of women who successfully quit smoking gained an average of 7.9 lbs. with a minimum of 1.9 lbs. and a maximum of 13.9 lbs. Women who continued to smoke gained on average 1.9 lbs., but also lost up to 2.4 lbs. or gained up to 6.4 lbs.

The women who successfully quit smoking said they ate more calories, but less fat compared to the women who kept smoking. Authors concluded that weight gain was linked to “efforts to stop smoking”.

They also noted further studies would be necessary to fully understand why this weight gain occurred and methods to successfully combat excessive weight gain.

Smoking is unhealthy, and moderate weight gain from quitting is more acceptable than continuing to smoke.

This study was published in July in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Funding for this study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Glaxo-SmithKline donated bupropion. No conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
November 27, 2012
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013