Does quitting smoking cause weight gain?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 04, 2017

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Quick Bites

  • Quitting smoke can lead to a weight gain of 4-5 kg within a year.
  • Average weight gain in untreated quitters was 2.9 kg after 3 months and 4.7 kg after a year.
  • Brush your teeth frequently throughout the day to satisfy a passing craving for oral gratification.

Quitting smoke can lead to a weight gain of 4-5 kg within a year, most of this in the first three months. This was the finding of a study published in the British Medical Journal. This is higher than what was expected. In the editorial, it is said that this modest weight gain should not detract or discourage people from quitting as the modest weight gain is easily outweighed by the health benefits.


The research was carried out on people who took recourse to nicotine replacement therapy as well as those who did not take any. The average weight gain in untreated quitters was 2.9 kg after three months and 4.7 kg after a year. 16 percent of the quitters were found to gain 10 kg before completing 12 months. The estimates of people who underwent the therapy were more or less the same.

One fact was clear from this research, that previous figures of weight gain after quitting were underestimated. The researchers suggested that with further research, they would be able to identify the people who are at greatest risk of gaining weight. They would also be able to clarify the ideal ways to stop persistent weight gain after quitting. 

Be smart about what you put in your mouth

When you quit, nicotine isn't all that you would crave for. You may also discover that you miss the habit of lighting a cigarette and putting it in your mouths. Many smokers turn to food to satisfy this so-called need for "oral gratification."

That's fine if it helps you to quit. But by choosing low-calorie or zero-calorie foods, you can avoid putting on weight. Some smart alternatives include:

  • Sugar-free gum
  • Sugar-free hard candies
  • Celery or carrot sticks
  • Sliced sweet peppers
  • Slices of jicama

Experiment to find which alternatives work best for you. Research shows that some smokers who quit experience a sharpened "sweet tooth." They're better off finding foods sweetened with artificial sugar. Some smokers really miss the oral gratification of smoking. They do best finding alternatives that require unwrapping something and chewing or sucking on it, such as sugar-free gum and hard candy.

Another trick is to brush your teeth frequently throughout the day. This can satisfy a passing craving for oral gratification. When your mouth is fresh and clean, you may have less of an urge to smoke. 

Image Source: Getty


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  • Matt26 Jul 2012

    Gaining weight isn't a given when you quit smoking. Exercising more will help, also it will help you quit smoking too. But also if you substitute cigarettes for something healthy instead of high calorie snacks, you might actually loose weight. Like this article says people shouldn't not quit smoking because of weight.

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