Former-smokers gain up to 11lbs a year after they quit the habit
Ex-smokers gained the most weight in the first three months after they quit
13:05 GMT, 11 July 2012
Ex-smokers were found to gain nearly twice as much weight as was predicted in quit advice leaflets
Former smokers gain up to 11lbs in weight after they kick the habit, research suggests.
Researchers, based in the UK and France, found that former smokers gained an average of 10lbs in the 12 months after they quit.
Most of the excess weight is gained during the first three months, they found.
It is nearly double the typical 6.6lbs quoted in quitting advice leaflets.
Analysing the results from 62 studies, the authors discovered that in the first three months after giving up, former smokers gain an average of 6.3lbs.
However, researchers found a large variation in weight change, with 13 per cent of people gaining more than 22lbs and 16 per cent losing some weight.
The study, published on bmj.com, is accompanied by an editorial which suggests that health benefits from quitting outweigh the excess weight gain.
Esteve Fernandez, from the University of Barcelona, and Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney, said: 'The relative long-term health effects of weight gain and smoking cessation also need to be considered with respect to the ultimate public health message that we should derive from this and future studies.
'Although obesity is positively associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, cohort studies indicate that modest weight gain does not increase the risk of death; smoking does.'
Ex-smokers gain weight because nicotine is an appetite suppressant and the activity slightly increases metabolism.
The NHS recognises that the symptom is a problem that deters many people from quitting the habit.
In advice given on their 'smokefree' website, it says: 'When you go smokefree, your appetite and sense of taste may improve, tempting you to snack more often.
'Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks, like fruit or nuts, in the house and hide the crisps!
'Any weight gain need only be temporary. Once you've stopped smoking, you'll find it easier to be active and lose any extra weight.'
Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK and kills around 100,000 people a year. There are around 10 million adult smokers in Britain.
The NHS Smoking Helpline is 0800 022 4332