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Why Do Smokers Gain Weight After They Quit?

Nearly everyone knows and understands smoking is not good for their health. Many of you also know that I believe eating sugar is worse for you than smoking. Still, I found it interesting and not so surprising that the rewarding value of food increases for smokers with a particular genetic background when they quit, including a predictable weight gain over the following six months.

Researchers examined the value of food for 71 smokers enrolled in a clinical trial of bupropion and a placebo for smoking cessation. Participants provided blood samples and received bupropion or a placebo plus seven sessions of behavioral group counseling.

After studying both variants of the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2), scientists found smokers with the less common DRD2 variant (A1) exhibited significant increases in the rewarding value of food following abstinence from smoking. Higher levels of food reward following quitting smoking predicted significant increases in weight by 6-month follow-up

However, smokers with the less common (A1) variant who were treated with bupropion did not experience significant weight gain at 6 months follow-up. This suggests that bupropion may be an effective treatment for smokers who are more likely to experience increases in food reward and weight gain after quitting.

Over my two decades as a physician, It's become very clear to me that smoking is a minor issue relative to eating properly. There's a major risk a smoker will exchange his or her vice for an even worse one (bad eating habits), if the smoker isn't prepared to both maintain a healthy diet during the withdrawal process.

To help smokers successfully quit and maintain a healthy diet, there are some wonderful tools at their disposal. Techniques like EFT are an inexpensive and healthy way to get back on the road to better health.

Science Daily September 9, 2004

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