Smoking for weight control and its associations with eating disorder symptomatology

Compr Psychiatry. 2012 May;53(4):403-7. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2011.05.007. Epub 2011 Jul 7.


Objective: This study examined interrelationships between cigarette smoking for weight control and eating disorder symptoms in a community sample of adult female smokers.

Method: Participants were 107 female smokers who completed a battery of questionnaires, including the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q). Key items measured weight-control smoking, including smoking to prevent overeating, smoking to undo the effects of overeating, and smoking to feel less hungry. Smokers who endorsed smoking in an attempt to control weight were compared with those who denied such behaviors on EDE-Q scores and frequency of binge eating and purging.

Results: A substantial proportion of participants reported weight-control smoking. Participants who endorsed weight-control smoking reported elevations on eating disorder symptoms as measured by the EDE-Q. Compensatory smoking was related to the frequency of binge eating.

Discussion: The findings have implications for clinicians working with eating disorder patients; for some individuals, cigarette smoking may be used as an attempt to compensate for overeating.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires