Purpose: We assessed the association between smoking cessation and prospective weight change in the European population of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Physical Activity, Nutrition, Alcohol, Cessation of smoking, Eating out of home And obesity (EPIC-PANACEA) project.
Methods: The study involved more than 300,000 healthy volunteers, recruited between 1992 and 2000 in 9 European countries, who provided data on anthropometry and smoking habits at baseline and after a follow-up of 5 years on average. Adjusted mixed-effects linear regression models were used to obtain sex-specific summary estimates of the association between the change in smoking status and the annual change in weight.
Results: Smoking cessation tends to be followed by weight gain; when compared to stable smokers, annual weight gain was higher in men (0.44 kg (95%CI: 0.36; 0.52)) and women (0.46 kg (95%CI: 0.41; 0.52)) who stopped smoking during follow-up. When smokers who stopped smoking at least 1 year before recruitment were compared to never smokers, no major differences in annual weight gain were observed. The excess weight gain following smoking cessation appears to mainly occur in the first years following the cessation.
Conclusions: When considering the benefits of smoking cessation, such findings strengthen the need for promoting cessation offering information on weight gain control and support to weight-concerned smokers in order to remove a barrier to quitting.
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