Saturday, July 11, 2009

Smoking Cessation and Weight Gain

For years the medical establishment claimed that the weight gained with smoking cessation was a modest, relatively harmless 5 to 7 pounds. It's not that they were lying, but rather that their research wasn't covering all the bases. They were looking at cessation success rates, weight gain, and other factors after only 6 to 12 weeks.

When researchers took a look at weight gained after one year of continuous abstinence, the average weight gain was more like 13 pounds. In one study, a subgroup of patients gained in excess of 28 pounds over the course of a year.

The news goes from bad to worse. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (part of NIH), in its guidelines on obesity management admits: "Weight gain that accompanies smoking cessation so far has been relatively resistant to most dietary, behavioral, or physical activity interventions." []

The Guidelines mention three treatments that reduce postcessation weight gain: Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), phenylpropanolamine, and bupropion. Phenylpropanolamine was pulled off the market by the FDA several years ago due to concerns about stroke. It was one of the most effective weight loss drugs. Bupropion (Zyban) requires a prescription.

There are several forms of NRT that are available without prescription, including patches, gum, and lozenges. More recently, inhaled vaporized nicotine has become available using a new product from China, the "electronic cigarette." Many e-cigarette users bought the product to use in places and at times where smoking tobacco is illegal, and found--to their surprise--that they no longer needed to smoke tobacco. No weight gain has been reported while using the e-cigarette with a nicotine cartridge.

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