Weight gain after quitting smoking does not negate health benefits

An analysis of data from the Framingham Offspring Study – a long-term study that follows children of participants in the original Framingham Heart Study – may have answered a question that has troubled individuals considering stopping smoking: do the health effects of any weight gained after quitting outweigh the known cardiovascular benefits of smoking cessation? The report in the March 13 issue of JAMA concludes that the benefits of stopping smoking far exceed any weight-gain associated risk.

"Among people without diabetes, those who stopped smoking had a 50 percent reduction in the risk for heart attack, stroke or , and accounting for any weight increase didn't change that risk reduction," says James Meigs, MD, MPH, of the General Medicine Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) senior author of the JAMA report. "In patients with diabetes – among whom weight gain is a particular concern – we saw the same pattern of a large risk reduction regardless of weight gained."

No study has previously investigated whether -associated weight gain increases the . One did look at the effects on such as blood pressure and , but none have analyzed the actual occurence of cardiovascular events. Participants in the Framingham Offspring Study, which began in 1971, have a comprehensive medical exam and history taken every four to six years. The current investigation analyzed data from participant visits conducted from the mid 1980s into the mid-2000s, which covering the third to eighth visits for the overall study. The number of participants at each exam cycle ranged from almost 2,400 to about 3,250, totalling 11,148 individual person-exams.

Based on information gathered at each exam, participants were categorized as never smokers, current smokers, recent quitters – who had stopped smoking since their last exam – and long-term quitters. At the third study visit, 31 percent of participants were current smokers, and by the eighth visit only 13 percent continued to smoke. A general trend toward weight gain was seen across all study participants. Smokers, never smokers, and long-term quitters gained an average of 1 to 2 pounds between study visits, while recent quitters had gained an average of 5 to 10 pounds since their previous visit. But no matter how much weight they gained, the risk of cardiovascular events in the six years after quitting dropped in half for participants without diabetes. A similar drop in the incidence of was seen in participants with diabetes, but it did not reach statistical significance, probably because less than 15 percent of the overall group was know to have diabetes.

"We now can say without question that stopping smoking has a very positive effect on cardiovascular risk for patients with and without diabetes, even if they experience the moderate weight gain seen in this study, which matches post-cessation weight increase reported in other studies," says Meigs, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

More information: JAMA. 2013;309(10):1014-1021
JAMA. 2013;309(10):1032-1033

Related Stories

Quitting smoking results in minimal weight gain

Feb 17, 2012

The declining rate of smoking is unlikely to be a major contributor to the recent increases in the incidence of obesity. While quitting smoking might cause some people to gain weight, the amount gained will ...

Drug helps women who stop smoking keep weight off

Dec 10, 2012

A medication being tested to help smokers kick the habit also may help avoid the weight gain that is common after quitting but only in women, according to a study published in the December issue of Biological Psychiatry. This i ...

Non-smokers put on less weight

Apr 22, 2010

A new study links nicotine poisoning with weight gain, and concludes that active smokers, not only those who stop, put on more weight than non-smokers. After four years of analysis in the University of Navarra, those who ...

Recommended for you

Drink up for exercise, but not too much

42 minutes ago

With students heading back to school, fall sports are in full swing. In addition to training, eating right, and getting enough sleep, a significant key to health and performance is staying hydrated. However, the recent tragic ...

Gang life brings deep health risks for girls

52 minutes ago

Being involved in a gang poses considerable health-related risks for adolescent African American girls, including more casual sex partners and substance abuse combined with less testing for HIV and less knowledge ...

Steer clear of dietary supplements for concussions: FDA

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)— As the fall sports season starts and young players face the risk of concussions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that dietary supplements that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions ...

Venezuela battles obesity amid dearth of good food

5 hours ago

Venezuela's socialist government is sounding the alarm about growing waistlines in a country where record food shortages are making it harder to put healthy meals on the table, prompting many people to fill ...

User comments