Fear of Extra Pounds Makes It Harder for Women to Quit Smoking
Women have a harder time quitting smoking than men do, in part because of concerns that they will gain weight if they stop.
Some anti-smoking programs have included dieting advice in hopes of increasing the rate of quitting, but with little success. A new study suggests that better results can be obtained by counseling to alleviate women's fears about increased weight.
Drs. Kenneth A. Perkins and Marsha Marcus of the University of Pittsburgh enrolled 219 female smokers who wanted to quit smoking but were worried about gaining weight. They randomly assigned the women to one of three smoking cessation groups: one group received standard anti-smoking therapy in which weight gain was not explicitly discussed, one received standard therapy plus diet advice about how to prevent weight gain and one received standard therapy plus counseling to reduce their concern about gaining weight. Dieting was discouraged in the latter group. The team reported in the August Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (http://www.apa.org/journals/ccp.html) that, one year later, 21% of the women who had received counseling to allay their concerns about weight gain were still not smoking, compared to only 13% of the group who got diet advice and 9% of the standard therapy group.
All three groups did gain weight. But women in the weight-counseling group gained an average of only about 5.5 pounds, while those in the diet-advice group gained an average of 11.9 pounds and those in the standard therapy group gained 16.9 pounds.