It is well-known that people who quit smoking usually gain weight, as nicotine is an appetite suppressant. The average weight gain was set around 2.9 kg (about 6.4 pounds), but a new study published in BMJ maintains that it is actually higher, approximately 4-5 kg (9-11 pounds) after one year of quitting smoking.
Researchers in France and the UK studied 62 previous papers on the issue, made between 1989 and 2011. They concluded that 37% of quitters gained less than 5 kg of weight, while 34% gained between 5 and 10 kg and 13% more than 10 kg. On the other hand, 16% lost weight instead of gaining it.
This doesn’t mean that smokers should fear getting fat after quitting, as there are ways to counterbalance the increased appetite. Also, the health benefits of quitting outbalance the risks associated to possible overweight.
‘These data suggest that doctors might usefully give patients a range of expected weight gain,’ write the researchers. ‘Further research should identify the subgroups most at risk of gaining weight and clarify the optimum content and timing of interventions to prevent weight gain after cessation.’
Henri-Jean Aubin, Amanda Farley, Deborah Lycett, Pierre Lahmek, & Paul Aveyard (2012). Weight gain in smokers after quitting cigarettes: meta-analysis BMJ DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e4439
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