Ex-Smokers Pack On The Pounds
Smokers who kick the habit may gain more weight
than previously thought, according to the results of a study
of nearly 6,000 people who quit smoking. According to a study
in the latest issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology,
University of Miami School of Medicine researchers, led by Dr.
Peggy O'Hara, found that on average, men who quit smoking and
did not start again gained 16.7 pounds in five years. Women
who quit permanently gained 19.2 pounds over the same period.
The men and women in the study gained 60% to 65% of this additional
weight the first year after quitting, and gained the remainder
over the next four years.
"Contrary to previous studies, our data do not
suggest that weight gained in year one stabilizes or is lost
by year five," stated O'Hara. Among other reasons, the men and
women in the new study may have gained more weight than those
in previous studies because they were heavy smokers, the researchers
note. Previous research findings suggest that the more people
smoke before quitting, the more weight they are likely to gain
after quitting. O'Hara's team concludes that the "health benefits
of quitting smoking outweigh the effects of weight gain," but
advise that weight management intervention be introduced early
in smoking cessation.
The ex-smokers in the study gained two to four
times more weight than expected, given the results of previous
research. Quitting can lead to weight gain for a number of reasons.
Nicotine appears to speed metabolism, so even smokers who do
not increase their food intake after quitting can still gain
weight if they do not exercise more, according to O'Hara.
Nicotine may also suppress appetite. One answer
to help ex-smokers keep the weight gain is a moderate increase
in physical activity of between three and six hours per week
of walking or one to two hours of jogging. In one study, smokers
who increased their activity levels in this way gained only
4 pounds over 2 years. Future research should clarify the degree
to which increases in physical activity can effectively help
smokers to quit and to limit the attendant weight gain. In the
meantime, implementing a regular program of physical activity
may help smokers who wish to quit avoid the dual perils of relapse
(From American Journal of Epidemiology, November
FYI: Got (Skim) Milk_
To address a growing rate of obesity among children,
the government is urging schools to offer 1 percent and skimmed
milk in addition to whole milk.
"For at least one in five kids, being overweight
is not a cute phase that will be outgrown," Agriculture Secretary
Dan Glickman announced. "In the past 20 years the number of
obese children has doubled, placing more Americans at risk of
high cholesterol, blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis
and cancer -- all at an earlier age," Glickman said.
Glickman said both his department and the Centers
for Disease Control, are urging schools to offer 1 percent and
skim milk in addition to whole milk. However, he also said milk
selections should reflect a child's need, noting that poor children
who depend on school lunch programs for nutrition may need the
calories and fat in whole milk.
"Kids from more economically secure homes are
the ones with the fast food and other high-fat snacks more readily
available," Glickman said. "So the lower fat milk is the healthier