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Helping Overweight Smokers Quit, Study Identifies Effective Approach

Individuals who are overweight or obese often fear gaining additional weight if they stop smoking, which in turn causes increased health risks.

may2017image008Along with her research team, Marney A. White, Ph.D., M.S., associate professor in the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, directed “a randomized control trial of an Internet-administered smoking cessation treatment” that targeted overweight and obese smokers. The study appears in the Journal of Health Psychology.

Participants either volunteered for 12 weeks of nicotine replacement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or health education. The prevalence of smoking cessation was then measured after 12 weeks following the smokers’ quit date and again 24 weeks later.

Based on the findings, researchers concluded that CBT was more effective than health education for those attempting to regulate weight gain while remaining tobacco free. It was also found that those concerned about weight gain are, “less likely to seek treatment and have reported shorter quit attempts and a higher expectation of relapses if they gain weight.” Individuals were also more likely to cease smoking efforts if they experienced post-quit weight gain.

“There is a need for tailored smoking cessation treatments for smokers who are overweight or obese, because the combined effect of smoking and obesity on health outcomes is quite grave,” said White.

Despite the fact that smokers often weigh less than non-smokers, the severe health implications resulting from smoking far outweigh the benefits of a lower weight. For instance, obese individuals who smoke are 3.5 to 5 times more at risk for developing cardiovascular complications. Due to these risks, researchers concluded the need for smoking cessation treatments, “that address post-cessation weight gain.”

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