18 May 2017Smoking and Weight Loss

There are a lot of approaches to this topic, and they range from how smoking affects weight loss/weight gain, which is worse between obesity/smoking, and should one stop smoking or lose weight first? This article attempts to broach several of these focuses, but we want to hear from the reader in the comments below about their experiences with tobacco and weight management and overall health.

The news is out now that obesity is a great risk to life expectancy than smoking. According to researchers who worked with the New York University School of Medicine, obese people lost as much as 47 percent more life years than those who smoke. This is a change from 15 years ago when tobacco topped the list as the leading cause of preventable death. This was when US Surgeon General David Satcher warned that obesity would cause "as many" preventable deaths as smoking. Today, it's surpassed it.

Obesity has been shown to greatly increase a person's chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes, 11 different types of cancer - sometimes by half (oesophageal, colon, rectal, pancreatic, womb, kidney, multiple myeloma, breast, stomach, ovarian and biliary tract), or having a stroke or heart disease.

As we have seen in the movies and television shows for decades, the pretty, slim people have an affinity for smoking cigarettes (read Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization by Iain Gately). With this influence, we still see a lot of teens taking to smoking, but now it's not so much because of pleasure, enjoyment, or idol-worship. It's about weight.

According to this report out of Cornell University, US teens who are frequent smokers, 46 percent of girls and 30 percent of boys smoke, in part, to control their weight. Furthermore, smoking greatly increases if a teen feels they are "fat." Girls who said they were "much too fat" were 225% more likely to smoke than girls who thought their weight was about right. For boys, they are 145% more likely to smoke if they feel overweight. Looking at race, the study stated, "White teens were more than twice as likely as African-American adolescents to smoke for weight loss."

So what does smoking do to the body and for losing weight? Well, according to this study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is at least a correlation between smoking and lower BMI. The study notes that there was no population considered that showed smokers having higher BMI than non-smokers. Additionally, smokers weighed less than non-smokers, and body leanness increased with the duration of smoking, but not with intensity of smoking.

Why? The study suggests that smoking's effect on body weight is tied to an increase in metabolic rate and decreasing caloric absorption (mostly through reducing appetite). In addition to metabolic effects, nicotine in tobacco could produce an acute anorexic effect: during a two-hour period, hunger and food consumption were negatively associated and satiety and fullness were positively associated with increasing doses of nicotine. There is much more to this study, so check it out for yourself.

Lastly, what about people who are overweight and smokers? Perhaps you want to change both situations, but do you know which to change first: smoking or losing weight? This topic is addressed in an article for Health US News, and it's "complicated."

One study showed that overweight and obese smokers gain more weight after quitting than those who don't quit smoking. So instead of making a recommendation one way or another, the RD quoted suggests supporting whatever the individual chooses to tackle first. And to do this there are some steps:

  1. Prioritize
  2. Know Yourself
  3. Get Help
  4. Don't Give Up

Have you been faced with this decision? Are you facing it now? What's worked for you to give up smoking and/or lose weight while smoking?

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

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