Fear of weight gain preventing smokers from quitting
13th May 2014
smokingMost people are in agreement that smoking is bad. There are thousands of toxic chemicals contained within just a single cigarette that can cause a variety of different types of cancer and heart disease, not to mention the soaring cost of actually buying the cigarettes at a time of financial struggle in Britain. However, a new study suggests some people are forgetting how dangerous smoking is to themselves and those around them (via secondhand smoke) and are reluctant to quit smoking due to fear of piling on weight after they have stopped. Nicotine serves as an appetite suppressant, so after quitting smoking it is fairly normal for your appetite to increase and nicotine also raises your metabolic rate – heavy smokers can burn as many as 200 extra calories per day. Researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine assessed 186 smokers that had sought help for quitting smoking – determined by their involvement in a smoking cessation treatment study – and 102 smokers that were not interested in treatment, avoiding the treatment study altogether. Each smoker went through at least five cigarettes on a daily basis. Participants were quizzed by the researchers about any previous attempts they had made to quit smoking, any instances they had done so and put weight on, and if they were worried about gaining weight if they successfully stopped smoking in the near future. Fear of gaining weight was equal amongst the two groups but previous episodes of weight gain appeared to impact the urge of the smokers to seek treatment again after this. Around half of those involved in the study had put weight on when trying to quit smoking and the same people were more likely to not bother attempting to seek smoking treatment again. Those behind the study say that patients should receive more help from doctors and be asked about their experience with weight fluctuations as well as reassure the patient there are weight management ideas that can be included in their treatment for stopping smoking. This worrying trend of smokers continuing their habit due to the fear of gaining weight is clearly an issue that needs tackling. Despite their being an abundance of benefits to be had from stopping smoking, few want to trade in a nicotine addiction for a food addiction. However, rest assure that not everybody gains weight after they have kicked cigarettes into touch. You are more at risk if you are a heavy smoker, a heavy drinker or are already overweight. Those that do gain a few pounds need not panic too much as there are strategies you can undergo to help you control your weight. For instance, regular exercising may help to avert half the expected weight in the initial year after stopping smoking. By gradually building up to around 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week (fast walking, cycling or swimming) this will help to burn off calories and keep the cigarette cravings to a minimum. Smoking cessation medications such as Pfizer’s Champix can also help tremendously, actually doubling your chances of successfully stopping smoking and can help to limit weight gain in the first few months.