According to a four-year analysis by researchers at the University of Navarra, people who never smoked put on less weight than active smokers or those who stop smoking.
The researchers have evaluated the link between the two cardiovascular risk factors: the ''nicotine habit'' and the increase in weight when smokers stop the habit and when they continue smoking.
The results ‘are crucial for considering prevention programmes,’ says Francisco Javier Basterra-Gortari, main author of the study and researcher at UNAV.
The data, resulting from an analysis of 7565 people over 50 months, is based on age, sex, initial body mass index and lifestyles (sedentarism, changes in physical activity, energy/fibre intake, snacks between meals and consumption of fizzy drinks, fast food and alcohol).
Weight gain in people who stopped smoking during the study was higher the more cigarettes they smoked a day when the investigation began. Those who continued smoking also gained more weight during this period than the non-smokers.
The authors confirm that nicotine addiction is not an effective way of preventing obesity..
"In fact the increase is demonstrated, especially in ex-smokers and in smokers who continue," says Basterra-Gortari.
The association between being overweight and nicotine addiction is especially harmful for cardiovascular health. Therefore, abandoning the nicotine habit has been linked to a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular illnesses and cancer.
However, experts argue that weight gain after stopping smoking is, often, a reason for not quitting the nicotine addiction, especially among women.
Most of the investigations that have studied this link have observed that, although there is an increase in weight after stopping smoking, there are notable variations in weight gain.
The study has been published in the Revista Espanola de Cardiologia.