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Smoking does not appear to help people under age 30 control their weight, U.S. researchers report. "One of the many reasons that individuals smoke (particularly young people-and women) is the perception that smoking helps control bodyweight," the researchers, Or. Robert C.
Kiesges of the University of Memphis Prevention Center in Tennessee, and colleagues, note.
As they age, smokers do tend to gain less weight than nonsmokers, but whether young adult smokers-those most likely to report that they smoke to stay slim can control their weight better than nonsmokers under age 30 is not entirely dear, Klesges and colleagues report. To clarify, the researchers analyzed data on nearly 4,000 black and white young adult volunteers ages 18-30. At the start of the study, and 2, 5, and 7 years later, the volunteers reported whether they smoked, had their blood tested for by-products of smoking, and were weighed.
Klesges and colleagues report their findings in the American Psychological Association's Joumoi of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. At the start of the study, volunteers who smoked did weigh somewhat less-men, 4.5 kilograms less and women, 1.6 kg less-then nonsmokers, the researchers found. But groups-volunteers who smoked from the start, volunteers who began smoking during the study, those who quit during the study, and those who never smoked-gained weight over the seven-year period. Blacks who smoked gained somewhat less than black non-smokers-an average of 0.4 kg less each year. But white smokers gained similar amounts of weight over the seven years as white nonsmokers.
Moreover, smokers who quit during the study gained "substantially mom" weight-an average of 4.2 kg for whites and 6.6 kg for blacks-than those who never smoked, Klesges and colleagues reported. These findings have important health implications, since the perception that smoking controls bodyweight is widespread, particularly among youth.