Cigarettes increase waistline

Cigarettes increase waistline
Cigarettes increase waistline

A recent study demonstrated an association between smoking and abdominal obesity. What exactly is it?

American and Danish researchers have recently demonstrated that individuals who smoke tend to have a greater accumulation of fat in the abdomen than those who do not smoke. The results of their statistical analyses, based on data from 1.2 million Europeans, were published in the journal Addiction.

More abdominal fat in people who smoke

The study notably revealed the presence of a link between smoking and abdominal obesity. In other words, the amount of fat in the abdomen – and therefore the waist circumference – tends to increase in individuals who smoke, independently of factors such as alcohol consumption and socioeconomic status.

Interesting fact: despite reaching a healthy weight on the scale, people suffering from nicotine addiction remain more likely to have abdominal obesity than those who do not smoke.

Smoking and a high waistline both represent risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases. For example, we recognize today that the cigarette promotes abdominal obesity, which makes a person more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. In this context, smoking cessation is intended to be one more step towards improving health. However, many people are hesitant to quit their addiction for fear of gaining weight. This belief, once supported by the tobacco industry, as shown in old advertisements, including that of Lucky Strikes in 1920, proves difficult to dispel, even today.

Smoking cessation and weight gain: myth or reality?

Before associating smoking cessation with weight gain, some clarifications are necessary.

First, not all people who undertake a smoking cessation process will see their weight fluctuate in the same way. A meta-analysis showed that after 12 months, individuals who quit smoking gained an average of 4.67 kg (10.27 lb). However, the weight increase is not systematic. According to a prospective study conducted in Brazil, more than half of people who had crushed (64.6%) had either maintained their weight or gained less than 5% of their body mass after 12 months of abstinence*. During this same period, only 35.4% of individuals had gained more than 5% of their initial weight.

Next, it is important to consider the cardiovascular risk of the person who decides to quit smoking. A meta-analysis published in 2021 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research demonstrated that, in general, quitting smoking significantly reduces an individual’s cardiovascular risk. What is nevertheless surprising in the authors’ observations is that weight gain associated with smoking cessation does not increase cardiovascular risk. On the contrary, it would rather be associated with a cardioprotective effect. However, further studies will be necessary to fully understand the ins and outs of this association.

If you want to quit smoking, but are worried about weight gain, know that certain measures could help moderate the impact of your approach on the scale. A Cochrane review notably highlighted the possible effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and regular physical activity in limiting weight gain in people who stop smoking. In all cases, remember that quitting smoking is the most important thing a person who smokes can do to improve their health!

*According to the 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, the average weight of a 162.1 cm woman is approximately 66.8 kg (147 lb) and that of a man is 175.8 cm , 81.6 kg (180 lb). A weight gain of 5% would therefore represent approximately 3.34 kg (7.35 lb) for a woman and 4.08 kg (8.97 kg) for a man of average weight.

Katia Vermette, editor. has.

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