Can Smoking Make You Fat?

I was a little intrigued when I came across this idea on another website, and unsurprisingly it piqued my curiosity to investigate this a little further. I had always thought that smoking cessation is related to weight gain and not weight loss, which had led me to believe that smokers would be slimmer than non-smokers. In fact, this was published earlier in this blog here. So let us investigate the basis of the links between smoking and body weight.

According to fairly recent research conducted by the university of Glasgow, smoking is associated with reduced weight in general, but smokers are more likely to develop pot bellies. The explanation that was proposed is that smoking may result in body fat being accumulated in the stomach, which means that smokers would have a bigger stomach than non-smokers.

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One of the main findings in this research study was that generally, heavy smokers had a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-smokers due to known reasons. However, after taking BMI into account, heavy smokers generally had a higher waist circumference than non-smokers, which suggests that fat was preferentially stored around the mid section.

While one might think that this is no big deal, there is plenty of evidence that relates fat around the abdominal area to negative health outcomes later in life such as having diabetes. While this is a known relationship, the extent and severity of its implications still remain unclear.

To be clear, the scientists did not conduct the study themselves, but instead analysed a total of 29 studies which involved over 150000 participants. Some of the specific pieces of data used in this research included their weight, waist circumference and smoking-related information. Of course, the methods used in this analysis are not foolproof.

Despite the findings of such research, it shouldn’t force you into a state of emergency just yet. In science we always say that correlation does not imply causation. We do not even know the mechanisms that may give rise to this at a cellular level just yet. However, if you are a smoker, it would be a great idea to try to kick the habit, for the sake of your health.

If you are having trouble, the resources below might be of great assistance to you.


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