Researchers of Penn State College of Medicine, according to a recent study carried out, claim that the number of cigarettes smoked per day, along with body mass index (BMI) aids in predicting the fluctuation in weight of an individual after he or she quits smoking.

Smoking And Weight Gain

Roughly, a little amount of weight gain is expected after an individual quits smoking. However, the exact amount gained varies from person to person. For some it may be just a few pounds, while others may gain more than 25 pounds after quitting. Despite previous researches and data existing, the factors aiding in predicting this weight gain still remain unclear.

Susan Veldheer, a registered Dietitian in the Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, stated that the concern about weight gain becomes a barrier for many individuals deciding whether or not to make an effort to quit smoking. “Being able to simply categorize smokers who may gain more weight after quitting is imperative for working with them to tailor a specific treatment plan”, she explained.

The Study: Determining Factors Associated With Post-Smoking Weight Gain

To investigate personal factors that may be associated with weight gain, researchers observed the data of 12,204 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. By recording the number of cigarettes smoked daily and the BMI of each participant prior to quitting, they determined how these factors could have influenced weight changes over a period of 10 years.

The researchers compared changes in weight for non-smokers, to those who continued to smoke, and to those who quit altogether. According to Veldheer, everyone in the study gained a certain amount of weight, as is common with time. Non-smokers gained about a pound every year over the period of 10 years. Next, the researchers compared weight gain in continuing smokers with those who had quit.

A Significant Association Discovere: Finally A Reason To Not Quit Smoking

As reported in the International Journal of Obesity, there was no significant difference in the 10 year weight gain period between individuals who smoked less than 15 cigarettes a day with those who quit smoking. Veldheer remarked that this is good news for light and moderate smokers who are concerned about gaining weight after they quit. In the long-term, quitting will not have a huge impact on the weight of these individuals.

However, for those who smoked 25 or more cigarettes a day and those who were obese before quitting (BMI of 30 or more), the amount of weight gained as a result of quitting was substantial. Results showed that these individuals reported 23 pounds of smoking cessation-attributable weight gain and for obese smokers this amount of 16 pounds.

Even though this may seem as a significant and troublesome amount of weight gain, Veldheer insists that quitting smoking is the single most important decision for better health. “However, for heavy smokers and obese smokers, it may be a good idea to work on quitting smoking, along with other healthy lifestyle changes to manage their weight”, she added.