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Benefits of quitting smoking outweigh extra kilograms

By: The Heart Foundation

The health benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh the few kilograms some people gain after giving up, says the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

It comes after a study published today in the British Medical Journal suggested that, on average, quitters gain four to five kilograms in the first twelve months .

"We're very concerned that some people, especially women, might avoid giving up smoking, because they're worried about putting on weight," said Dr Robert Grenfell, Clinical Issues Director of the Heart Foundation.

"If you smoke, you are at least twice as likely to have a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.

"Giving up smoking is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your heart health and while being overweight is also a risk factor for heart disease, the health benefits of quitting far outweigh a few extra kilograms," Dr Grenfell said.

The study found that weight gain varied greatly with around 16-21 per cent of quitters actually losing weight while 13-14 per cent gained more than 10 kilograms.

"It's also important to recognise that this study only looked at smokers taking part in clinical trials, which means the results may well not apply to smokers as a whole," Dr Grenfell added.

"Several other studies have also shown that while many people gain weight shortly after quitting, they lose it again longer term.

"To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, we encourage all Australians to enjoy healthy eating - including your two and five of fruit and vegetables a day - as well as being active for 30 minutes a day," Dr Grenfell added.

For more information and tips about quitting smoking and being a healthy weight, visit The Heart Foundation or call 1300 36 27 87 to speak to our team of qualified health professionals.

An accompanying editorial in the British Medical Journal, co-authored by the University of Sydney's Professor Simon Chapman, also warns that the study may lead to exaggerated fear of weight gain among potential quitters.


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