University of Otago researcher Lindsay Robertson hopes ''debunking the myth'' that quitting smoking results in large weight gains results in more people kicking the habit. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Smokers wanting to kick the habit need not worry about
gaining a lot of weight after quitting, research based on the
longitudinal ''Dunedin Study'' shows.
The University of Otago findings - which go against previous
studies - came from the world-renowned Dunedin
Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which closely
follows the progress of about 1000 people born in Dunedin in
Researchers measured participants' smoking habits and weight
at regular intervals from ages 15 to 38.
About one-third of the group were smokers at age 21, and by
age 38 about 40% of them had quit.
Researchers found, on average, the weight of those who kicked
the habit returned to the same level as people of similar age
who had never smoked.
Furthermore, those who quit gained, on average, only about
5kg more than those who carried on smoking.
Assistant research fellow Lindsay Robertson, who led the
research, said she hoped the research would help ''debunk the
myth'' that quitting smoking resulted in large weight gains,
and encourage more people to quit.
''They should not be put off by the fear of putting on large
amounts of weight. It is important to be aware that a small
weight gain is unlikely to offset the health benefits of
quitting,'' she said.
The researchers also found that being a smoker did not
prevent long-term weight gain and all groups tended to put on
weight over time, regardless of their smoking status.
The findings went against previous studies which showed
people who quit might gain large amounts of weight, including
a recent study suggesting people who quit gained about 5kg
within a year.
Many of the other studies were not reliable, she said.
''The Dunedin Study ... has such a wealth of data, so we were
able to put things in our statistical model that other
studies weren't able to account for.''
The study was published online in the journal Nicotine
& Tobacco Research.