Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Lungs

Smoking Does Not Prevent Weight Gain and Smokers Who Quit Gain More Weight Than Nonsmokers

Although many young adults who smoke, especially young women, believe that cigarettes can help them control or lose weight, a new study published last week in the JOURNAL OF CONSULTING AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY found that smoking does not prevent weight gain for people under the age of 30.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Memphis, followed nearly 4,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 for seven years. "There's no question that smoking cigarettes definitely did not help younger people to lose weight. And smokers who do manage to quit gain more weight after they stop smoking than people who've never smoked," said Kenneth Ward, a psychologist at the University of Memphis and member of the research team.

According to the study, African American women who quit smoking gained an average of 28 pounds, the most weight of any other group, while African Americans who never smoked gained 18 pounds during the seven years. Whites who quit gained nearly 21 pounds, while whites who never smoked gained 11 pounds. Interestingly, whites who continued to smoke throughout the study also gained 11 pounds.

The researchers suggest that smoking prevention and public health messages should communicate that weight control is not a benefit of smoking, and if it does occur it is minimal and may take years to accrue.

Source(s): WASHINGTON POST, [12/1/98] "Smoking To Stay Slim? Study Clouds The Issue," Sandra Boodman, p. 7

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