Predictors of Marked Weight Gain in a Population of Health Care and Industrial Workers Following Smoking Cessation

Andreas Scherr; Bruno Seifert; Martin Kuster; Anja Meyer; Karl-Olov Fagerstroem; Michael Tamm; Daiana Stolz


BMC Public Health. 2015;15(520) 

In This Article


Background Concerns about postcessational weight gain might hamper rather than encourage smokers to quit smoking.

Methods We conducted a comprehensive multi-institutional smoking cessation program for health care and industrial workers (n = 654) employed at University Hospital Basel (Switzerland) and two local health industry companies (Novartis International AG, F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG). The program contained counselling with an option of pharmacological support. Changes in body weight were observed during 24 months of follow-up. Factors associated with longitudinal weight gain (>5 % of baseline weight) were identified by cox-regression analysis.

Results In 51 % of permanent quitters no significant changes of mean body weight were observed after 12 (0.52 kg, SD ±2.87 kg) and 24 months (0.40 kg, SD ± 2.99 kg). Marked weight gain following smoking cessation was characterized by a wide margin of changes. In more than a half of former smokers (58 %) weight increases were moderate (<5 kg), whereas excessive increases (>10 kg) were seen in only 10 % of quitters. Lower baseline BMI (HR 0.60, 95 % CI 0.40–0.80, p = 0.03), daily consumption of less than ten cigarettes (HR 0.53, 95 % CI 0.27–0.63, p = 0.04) and ischemic cardiopathy (HR 0.21, 95 % CI 0.07–0.62; p < 0.01) were associated with a lower risk for weight gain. Employees with lower educational levels (HR 2.60, 95 % CI 1.60–5.50, p < 0.01), diabetes mellitus (HR 3.05, 95 % CI 2.20–8.06, p = 0.02) and those smoking to reduce boredom in life (HR 1.68, 95 % CI 1.21–2.33, p < 0.01) were at highest risk.

Conclusion Marked postcessational weight gain occurs less often than expected, but remains difficult to be predicted. Our findings might be helpful to alleviate weight concerns in the average smoker willing to quit.