Smoking, weight loss intention and obesity-promoting behaviors in college students

J Am Coll Nutr. 2006 Aug;25(4):348-53. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2006.10719545.


Objective: To examine whether college smoking was associated with trying to lose weight and other weight-related behaviors.

Methods: We surveyed 300 students at the University of Kansas about smoking (ever, current, and amount), weight loss intention (y/n), weight-related attitudes, and eating and exercise behavior. Weight, height, and body fat were measured.

Results: About half the students (49%) self-identified as having ever smoked while 53 (17.6%) self-identified as current smokers. After controlling for sex, age, and ethnicity, ever smoking was not related to weight loss intention but was associated with greater pressure to maintain a healthy weight (p = 0.05), and having engaged in mild exercise on more days in the previous year (p = 0.05). Compared to nonsmokers, current smokers ate more at restaurants serving high calorie foods (p < 0.05) and ate more frequently in front of the TV (p < 0.01). Amount smoked was related to diminished use of exercise facilities (p = 0.03) and more frequent eating at restaurants serving high calorie foods (p < 0.05) and in front of the TV (p = 0.01).

Conclusions: Current smoking among college students was related to weight loss intention. Despite wanting to lose weight, current smoking was concomitant with obesity-promoting behaviors such as eating higher calorie foods and eating in front of the TV. College-based interventions to prevent smoking initiation or promote smoking cessation should include a focus on healthy eating, exercise and healthful ways to lose or maintain weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Restaurants
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss