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Quitting Cigarettes Not Linked to Long-Term Weight Gain

Update Date: Jan 27, 2014 01:52 PM EST

Smoking, which is one of the leading causes of preventable death, can lead to the development of several health conditions, such and lung and oral cancers in the long-term. In the short-term, smoking has been tied to curbing one's appetite. For people who want to stay slim, they might be discouraged to quit the habit due to the fear of gaining weight. However, according to a new study, quitting smoking is not tied to long-term drastic weight gain.

For this study, the researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand concluded their findings from the world-renowned Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. This study followed nearly 1,000 people who were born from 1972 to 1973 in Dunedin. The data included smoking habits and weight, which were collected at regular intervals starting at 15-years-old through to 38-years-old. The researchers calculated that around one-third of them were smokers by the age of 21. By 38, 40 percent of that group of smokers had quit.

The researchers concluded that over the time span of 17 years, the people who quit smoking had weights that were comparable to people of similar age who were never smokers. The ex-smokers' new weights were around 11 pounds higher, which the researchers deemed a relatively small gain in comparison to people who continued to smoke. The team found the same results for men and women.

"We hope that our findings will encourage people who are thinking about quitting. 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," the lead investigator of the study, Lindsay Robertson said according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers reiterated the fact that small weight gain maintained by healthy eating and good physical activity levels could be more beneficial than smoking. The study, "Smoking Cessation and Subsequent Weight Change," was published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

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