Quitting Smoking Makes You Gain Weight. It’s Still Healthier

By Mark Barna | August 24, 2018 10:00 am

(Credit: Oteera/shutterstock)

(Credit: Oteera/shutterstock)


Give up smoking for cheesecake? Maybe that’s not such a bad idea.

People who quit smoking cigarettes often gain weight. That’s not necessarily because ex-smokers need a new habit and they enjoy eating. It’s because the nicotine in cigarettes suppresses appetite to some degree. When the nicotine stops, appetite returns and people can put on pounds.

The correlation between quitting smoking and weight gain has been observed in many studies. And for some people, it’s not just a risk for obesity – the risk of developing type 2 diabetes also increases after giving up the cancer sticks.

This led researchers to study if quitting smoking is actually a dangerous health strategy for some people. Smoking is bad for health, but so is obesity. And both increase risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiopulmonary disease. But which is worse?

In a study published this month in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers examined three cohort studies covering 19 years of health data on over 170,000 people in the United States. Every couple years, these people filled out questionnaires about their health and lifestyle. Researchers zeroed in on the cases involving people who had quit smoking. Did they gain weight and develop chronic illnesses?

For some in the study, giving up the habit led to weight gain that damaged their overall health. On average, they had a 22 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

But before wistful ex-smokers say I told you so and reach for the cigs hidden in the book shelf, the study, co-led by Harvard nutritionist Yang Hu, found that increased diabetes risk peaked five to seven years after quitting, then gradually waned.
More important, even among the people who gained 20 pounds or more after quitting smoking, their risk of developing cardiovascular disease decreased by up to 67 percent.

Conclusion: Obesity is bad, smoking is worse.

“Smokers shouldn’t be deterred by potential weight gain after quitting because the short-term and long-term reduction of cardiovascular disease risk is clear,” Hu said in a news release. “However, quitters may want to consider eating a healthful diet and engaging in physical activities to minimize weight gain to keep their diabetes risk at bay and to maximize the health benefits of quitting.”

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  • Leila

    Don’t smoking. In July of 2017. it was discovered that I got type 2 diabetes, By the end of the July month. I was given a prescription for the Metformin, I stated with the some diet and followed it completely for several weeks but was unable to get my blood sugar below 140, Without results to how for my hard work. I really panicked and called my doctor. His response?? Deal with it yourself, I started to feel that something wasn’t right and do my own research, Then I found Lisa’s great blog (google ” How Lisa freed diabetes ” ) .. I read it from cover to cover and I started with the diet and by the next week. my blood sugar was 100, Since then. I get a fasting reading between the mid 70s and 80s, My doctor was very surprised at the results that. the next week. he took me off the Metformin drug, I lost 16 pounds in my first month and lost more than 3+ inches off my waist and I’m able to work out twice a day while still having lots of energy. The truth is that we can get off the drugs and help myself by trying natural methods.

    • Not_that_anyone_cares, but…

      Thank you for sharing.

  • Mr. Goldfish “Minty Fresh”

    Dont quit until you know what your doing. I quit cold turkey thinking its all sunshine afterward. Nope! after 2 years of quiting, I got major anxiety that I can’t leave the house. I wish people online can inform you the side effects of quieting and not talk about how beneficial it is.

  • OWilson

    Tobacco (nicotine) has played a significant roll as a stress reliever over millennia.

    The “Pipe of Peace”, the last cigarette before the firing squad, and the government issued cheap cigarettes made available to troops during the last world wars. Snuff and chaw had their heyday, too!

    While others scoffed, in my former life a short cigarette break was often the catalyst that led to a solution of a seemingly unsolvable problem in Project Management. A Eureka moment, if you will.

    It certainly has some adverse health benefits, but so does stress:

    “According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints” – Miami Herald.

    Fact is, as long as stress is a normal part of daily life, people will continue to turn to drugs of all kinds.

    Disclaimer: this is not an endorsement, and I derive no financial benefit from the sale of tobacco, unlike governments that collect $billions in taxes from poor unfortunate dependents.

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