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Weight gain fears keep some smokers from quitting

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TUESDAY, May 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Concerns about weight gain prevent some smokers from seeking treatment to help them quit -- especially if they picked up a few pounds during previous attempts -- a new study finds.

Putting on extra pounds is common among smokers after they quit, with an average weight gain of 8 pounds to 14 pounds within the first year after kicking the habit, Penn State University College of Medicine researchers said.

They surveyed 186 smokers who sought treatment to quit and 102 smokers who did not. The participants, who smoked at least five cigarettes a day, were asked about weight gain during previous efforts to quit and how concerned they were about putting on extra pounds if they tried to quit again.

Those who did and did not seek treatment to help them quit were equally concerned about weight gain. The difference, however, was in whether or not they gained weight in previous attempts to quit smoking.

The researchers found that 53 percent of the study participants gained weight during previous quitting attempts. Among these smokers, those who were highly concerned about weight gain were less likely to seek treatment to help them quit smoking, according to the study, which was recently published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

"Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that smokers who gained weight previously are 'once bitten, twice shy,'" Susan Veldheer, project manager at Penn State's department of public health sciences, said in a university news release. "They are concerned about weight gain if they attempt to quit even though they may know the benefits of quitting."

Doctors should ask smokers if they gained weight during previous quitting attempts, the researchers said. If that's the case, patients should be assured that efforts to maintain weight will be included in their treatment to quit smoking.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

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