For years it was believed that nicotine in cigarettes kept smokers from gaining weight and helped with weight loss efforts. However, studies were so focused on cancer-causing effects of nicotine that this concept has not been well-researched. Rather than helping with weight loss, it is now believed that those who smoke may be heavier than non-smokers. Does nicotine cause weight gain?
If you look on the internet and in print publications, it appears to be common knowledge that smoking cigarettes suppresses the appetite to help with wight loss or at least prevent weight gain. There are some who even promote that smoking increases metabolism. However, there is no scientific evidence that the nicotine in cigarettes actually has this effect.
A paper published at Vanderbilt University shows conflicting results between four studies on the effect of nicotine on weight loss. Light smokers were found to weigh a bit less, but conflicting reports were made for those that smoke more. It appears that those that smoked more cigarettes were actually heavier than light smokers and non-smokers.
A more recent study published on e! Science News shows quite a different story. Researchers decided to try to prove if smoking did actually make people lose weight. Over the course of the study, it was found that smokers actually gained more weight over time than non-smokers.
This weight gain for smokers was not just seen for those who tried to quit smoking. Although weight gain was greater for those who quit smoking over those who never smoked at all, those who continued to smoke showed more weight gain than those who never smoked.
Not only should nicotine not be used to lose weight due to health risks of smoking, according to studies, nicotine is not the appetite suppressant previously thought. Perhaps it was believed to be so in the past because smoking increases heart-rate which might have been believed to increase metabolism. Most likely, people who smoke may eat less as sense of taste is dulled from smoking. Also, smoking and eating at the same time isn’t palatable for most people.
Overcoming nicotine addiction is extremely difficult, however the risk of weight gain should not keep you from quitting smoking. Since nicotine is not an appetite suppressant and won’t help with weight loss, quitting smoking is not what makes you gain weight, but eating more when you quit does cause weight gain.
Finding something to do with your hands and chewing on something such as a cinnamon stick can help with the hand-to-mouth habit. As foods began to taste better when your sense of taste returns, place more emphasis on healthy foods if you feel the desire to eat more.
This study takes away another excuse to avoid quitting smoking — the concern over possible weight gain. According to this study’s results, you’re going to gain weight whether you quit or continue using nicotine in the long term.
THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT MEANT TO DIAGNOSE OR TREAT ANY ILLNESS, NOR SHOULD IT REPLACE THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN.
Carrie Paulus; Nicotine as a Means for Weight Control: Advantage or Disadvantage?; Vanderbilt University
e! Science News; Non-smokers put on less weight