Stopping smoking leads to a bigger weight gain than previously thought

A new study has reported that stopping smoking results in a weight gain of an average 5kg during the first 12 months, with is significantly more that was previously thought. The medical researchers have noted in the online British Medical Journal that the majority of this weight is gained during the first 3 months, whilst another group has stressed that the health benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh any risks of gaining weight.

Those who quit by going ‘cold turkey’ saw an average weight gain of 1.1kg after 1 month, 2.3kg after 2, 2.9kg after 3, 4.2kg after 6 and 4.7kg after 12 months. These figures are according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the team from Britain and France noted that this was substantially higher than the figure of 2.9kg which is so often quoted in the advice leaflets about stopping smoking.

They added that this average weight gain is also greater than the 2.3kg that female smokers have reported that they are willing to tolerate in order to kick the habit. Research has shown in the past that nicotine is an effective appetite suppressant, and could even increase the metabolic rate.

For this latest paper, researchers collated data from earlier studies carried out between 1989-2011 in Australia, Europe, Eastern Asia and the US that was used to assess the changes in weight after a smoker had successfully quit.

The editorial that accompanies the paper, is written by the University of Sydney’s Prof Simon Chapman and Ass Prof. Esteve Fernandez from Universitat de Barcelona and they both say that smoking is a lot more detrimental to health than a modest weight gain. They wrote that the main cause of worldwide premature death is tobacco and it is responsible for around 5.1m deaths a year whilst obesity causes 2.8m deaths.