Today,more than 200 health professionals attended the Institute for Women's Health Research at Northwestern University's first educational research forum of the 2010-2011 school year that  featured Bonnie Spring, PhD, a behavioral psychologist at Northwestern.   Her lecture entitled  "Untangling the Web of Women, Smoking and Weight"  made me realize how much we still need to learn about the power of addiction.  Here are some interesting notes about smoking cessation and weight gain from her lecture:

  • Reasons women continue to smoke:   mood and stress management, addiction/craving, social network, weight management.
  • Fear of weight gain discourages 50% of women and 26% of men who smoke  from quitting.   The reality is that 80% of people who quit smoking gain weight but the actual weight gain is about 6-10 lbs. , not the 15 lbs. that people assume.
  • The major cause of post cessation weight gain:   decreased metabolism (from nicotine cessation) and increased energy intake from snacks. Evidently, when we take away something the body values or provides pleasure (e.g., nicotine), we tend to substitute it with something else that we value (e.g. food).
  • Education about the benefits of not smoking is not enough to change behavior;  exercise alone to keep weight off while quitting smoking does not work.
  • Drugs sometimes used during smoking cessation to keep weight down work while they are being used, but once they are stopped, the weight returns.
  • Several studies have been conducted to determine if weight loss programs should be done simultaneously during smoking cessation therapy; shortly after smoking cessation has begun;  or completely after the person quits.  The results vary and it is not yet clear what the best approach is.
  • A lot of controversy persists around the question:   Do weight management efforts undermine tobacco abstinence?  Despite several national guidelines that state so, there is no study that demonstrates that trying to prevent weight gain while trying to quit smoking makes it less likely that a woman will succeed at quitting smoking, according to Dr. Spring.

Some promising approaches that are being evaluated include:

  • Sequential behavioral treatment (cessation, then diet and activity change) more effective than simultaneous treatment because it is  less overwhelming to the patient.
  • Exercise alone does not suppress weigh gain
  • Bupropion, varenicline, NRT suppress weight gain in the short term, but not long-term (after medications discontinued)
  • Weight acceptance (but so far tested only among very weight concerned smokers)

So the jury is still out on the best way to quit smoking.  Dr. Spring also shared some of the early advertising campaigns that were highly successful in raising the number of women smokers.   She noted, "Perhaps the best way to get women to quit smoking is to hire the companies that have been so successful in getting women addicted!"



This is where I love being an ex-smoker, because I can stand on my soap box and not have the smokers roll their eyes at me as much. I think a lot of people should look deeper than the details upon details that come up about this subject: How on earth could anyone ever think that inhaling smoke would wind up harmless? The more time passes, the more damage we realize that smoking does. It does seem, though, that we're making some headway with kids and teenagers, as fewer are smoking these days (thankfully). One can only hope that we push this demon as far into the corner as possible.

Some may look slightly perplexed at the notion of a bodybuilding fat loss diet. After all, are not bodybuilders known for pumping iron and not engaging in dieting? Actually, bodybuilding is more about weight loss and diet than it is about packing on muscle. This is because unless a bodybuilder maintains a low percentage of body fat, the muscles he has developed will not be symmetrically visible. That is why bodybuilders invest a great deal of time properly dieting and engaging in a significant cardio program.

it is MIND blowing that people ACTUALLY won't give up smoking in fear of gaining weight. I mean REALLY.

There is no one way to quit smoking. Some people quit cold turkey, some use patches or medication. The important thing is to help them understand that the added 6-10lbs is not as dangerous as the smoking. Quitting smoking is one step on the road to health. As a health care professional, I guess I reckognize that there has to be a whole body approach to quitting. The person should start exercising in some way when quitting, even if just to stay active. Weight needs to be less of an issue that overall health.

I don't get why people would pay a company to kill them slowly. This is what smokers are doing.

Very good reading! I agree with a lot of your unique views. It’s about time someone wrote information like this in a clear, understandable style. Thank you for your insight.

I've never smoke my entire life. And to say that smoking is wrong and should not be used as an excuse is where i could definitely make a stand for it. People who smoke had number of reasons they could think to lie on, but bottom line is, it is WRONG. Even if our government has dubbed it as legal. The good thus not outweighs the bad people.....

Hypnotherapy is a VERY effective way of stopping smoking. When it works it almost always goes hand in hand not gaining weight. This is because the underlying reasons for smoking are addressed and there is not the perception of a gap having been left in the non-smoker’s life so there is no need to compensate for the loss of smoking by over-eating.

you don't gain weight from stopping smoking, you gain weight because you need to keep your fingers busy and you snack instead.....So stop snacking needlessly, get a healthy snack (handful of almonds)....or here's a totally novel concept, either go for a walk during your smoke break (burns calories) or try jogging since you may be able to breathe once again.

Its amazing how smoking could affect our lives. It gives away energy, we lose money, it takes our life little by little but still we continue to smoke. One stick to another, one empty butt to another well lighted cigar tip. Its all in a deep cycle that had become a bad habit. No matter how strong our campaign against smoking, it would still not matter for as long as they keep making it, people would keep using it... My advice, government should just raise the price.

Nice post,smoking is perhaps one of the hardest things I ever seen people try to quit

It's not just women who smoke because of stress but there's more likely a number of men who used to have it and deals with stress unconditionally and not just that they also had indulge themselves on some vices which is strongly destructive to health. However, it's been women who were more prone onto sickness due to smoking. This can be best stopped if you will try hard and wish to.

A small weight gain can sometimes be the result of quitting smoking. Of course this is a problem for smokers who are already overweight to start. In my experience as a Clinical Hypnotherapist I found that weight gain is not a big problem because a lot of smokers are emaciated and the weight gain is just a return to a healthy weight range. If weight gain becomes a problem then I like to treat this issue separately for two reasons: 1. In most cases the damage to health is greater from smoking than from putting on a few pounds. 2. Weight management is a complex issue that may require education and change of habits around food choices and eating frequency. Of course if obesity is posing an equal health hazzard as smoking, an integrated approach will be necessary.

Smoking kills, you could have been properly inform of how many years does smoking takes in just one pop of it. Life is priceless so you really must value it.

Awesome information and summary of the true facts. This article is well written and I fully agree with everything explained, you've done a lot of research and gone into a lot of depth with explaining the evidence and facts.

Why is it that when women and ladies tried to quit smoking or have actually kick the bad habit to the curb, it is directly associated to weight gain. Is there some truth in this matter.? Because I have lots of female friends who are not really very willing to give up smoking for the pounds that they will get once they do.

Electronic Cigarettes are obviously a more healthy and greener option for tobacco smokers but alas, they are starting to be banned inside university buildings and a lot of other public buildings here in the Uk too. I do agree though that until they are regulated peoperly then people have the right to be weary of them. There’s also an argument (well, more of a minority opinion for the sake of having an opinion) that electronic cigarettes would attract the younger generation to smoking. I own an electronic cigarette company so obviously my opinion is for them, but has anyone on here tried them or have an opinion as to whether they really do help people stop smoking?