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.