Rural adolescent attitudes toward smoking and weight loss: relationship to smoking status

Nicotine Tob Res. 2008 Feb;10(2):279-86. doi: 10.1080/14622200701824968.


Perceptions that smoking contributes to weight loss are widespread among youth. We examined the association between weight loss and smoking to determine whether supportive attitudes were associated with smoking status and whether this is a particular problem in rural areas. High school students (N=730) completed a survey assessing smoking-related characteristics and behaviors. Attitudes assessed included perceptions of whether weight concerns were the reasons others smoke and personal beliefs about tobacco's effect on weight gain. Smoking status was categorized as never (44%), experimental (42%), and current (14%). Multinomial logistic regressions investigated relationships between attitudes and smoking, adjusting for weight goals, gender, ethnicity, parent/peer smoking, and body mass index. Both attitudinal measures were associated with smoking (p< .05). Nonsmokers and experimental smokers were more likely than current smokers to believe that people smoke to lose weight. Although current smokers were less likely to report that others smoke for weight control, they believed they would gain weight if they quit. Conversely, nonsmokers and experimental smokers were less likely to believe they would gain weight if they do not smoke compared with current smokers. Thus personal attitudes differ from attitudes toward others with respect to weight loss and smoking. Moreover, endorsement of these attitudes can reliably distinguish current versus experimental smokers and may help better clarify the transition to current smoker. Because weight concerns are a significant factor in youth smoking, these issues should be included in intervention efforts, particularly in rural communities where smoking rates are higher and age at initiation is earlier.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Peer Group
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Virginia / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss*