Weight gain prevention and smoking cessation: cautionary findings

Am J Public Health. 1992 Jun;82(6):799-803. doi: 10.2105/ajph.82.6.799.


Objectives: Weight gain is a consistent sequela of smoking cessation. A successful intervention might attract smokers who fear weight gain. If the gain causes smoking relapse, such an intervention might reduce smoking relapse risk.

Methods: Using a sample of 158 smokers who completed a 2-week smoking treatment program, we compared an innovative weight gain prevention intervention with both a nonspecific treatment and standard treatment. Subjects were assessed on weight and smoking behavior and followed for 1 year.

Results: A disturbing, unexpected finding was that subjects in both the innovative and nonspecific conditions had a higher risk of smoking relapse than did standard treatment subjects. Some differences were observed between abstinent and smoking subjects in weight gain by treatment condition.

Conclusions: Both active interventions may have been so complicated that they detracted from nonsmoking. Also, caloric restriction may increase the reinforcing value of nicotine, a psychoactive drug, thereby increasing smoking relapse risk. The magnitude of weight gain after smoking cessation may not merit interventions that increase smoking risk. Perhaps attitudinal modifications are the most appropriate.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude to Health
  • Behavior Therapy / standards*
  • Diet, Reducing / standards*
  • Exercise Therapy / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Program Evaluation
  • Recurrence
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Weight Gain