Healthcare: On the Agenda - Weight piles on for smoking quitters

In a nutshell

Researchers have found that average weight gain for those that have stopped smoking is much greater than previously thought.

The research

Researchers from Paris-Sud University, Emile Roux Hospital and the University of Birmingham found that people could expect to put on up to 5kg (11lb), most of whom do so within three months of quitting. However, a figure of 3kg is commonly given as a benchmark in advice leaflets, while an average of 2.3kg increase was the amount many female smokers were willing to tolerate. The study was prompted by concerns that if stopping smoking leads to an increase in weight, it could deter people from giving up. The research team was keen to point out that the figures did not reflect actual weight changes of many people, as they were just averages. Variations were widespread, with about 16 per cent of quitters actually losing weight and 13 per cent gaining more than 10kg after 12 months. Results of 62 studies on weight change were analysed among successful quitters after 12 months.

PR strategy

The British Medical Journal's media list were all contacted with a news release and editorial was provided to qualify the research, which was picked up by national media. The lead researchers were put up for interview.

Media coverage

The report was picked up by the BBC, the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and trade titles, as well as international press including The Australian and Time magazine.

11lbs - The average weight that smokers could gain a year after quitting

16% - Percentage who bucked the trend and lost weight.

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