The Psychology of Eating and Drinking

By A. W. Logue | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14

When and Why Smoking Affects Your Weight

Approximately 72% of the people in the United States smoke cigarettes at some point in their lives. This huge percentage is tragic because smoking is responsible for more disease and death than any other preventable behavior. Approximately 400,000 deaths per year in the United States are attributed to smoking. Smoking increases the risk of heart diseases, respiratory diseases, stroke, and cancer, to name a few. In addition, cigarette smoking is responsible for millions of dollars being spent on cigarettes that could be spent on something else, for days lost from work, and for increases in health care insurance costs. Most people who quit smoking take three to four attempts before they're finally able to quit, and as many as 90% of those who attempt to quit experience physical withdrawal from their addiction to nicotine. The withdrawal symptoms include depression, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. 1

Given all of these horrible consequences, why do people start smoking, and if they do smoke, why do they not all quit? There are many good answers that can be given to this question, most of which are beyond the scope of this book. However, there's one answer that is within the scope of this book: body weight.

Several different studies have shown that a great many people believe that smoking helps control weight. For example, in one study, approximately 10% of male smokers and 5% of female smokers started smoking because they thought that it would help them to lose weight. In another study, 47% of men and 59% of women continued to smoke because they feared that they would gain weight if they stopped. In fact, some of the study's participants-most often women-after stopping smoking had

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