The best action you can take to improve your health is to quit
Many people gain weight when they quit smoking. Even so, the best
action you can take to improve your health is to quit smoking. Focus on
stopping smoking first. Then you can continue to improve your health in
other ways. These may include reaching and staying at a healthy weight for
|Will I gain
weight if I stop smoking?
Not everyone gains weight when they stop smoking. Among people who
do, the average weight gain is between 6 and 8 pounds. Roughly 10 percent
of people who stop smoking gain a large amount of weight—30 pounds or
causes weight gain after quitting?
When smokers quit, they may gain weight for a number of reasons.
Feeling hungry. Quitting smoking may make a person feel hungrier
than usual. This feeling usually goes away after several
Having more snacks and alcoholic drinks. Some people eat more
high-fat, high-sugar snacks and drink more alcoholic beverages after
they quit smoking.
Burning calories at normal rate again. Smoking cigarettes makes
the body burn calories faster. After quitting smoking, the body’s normal
rate of burning calories returns. When calories are burned more slowly
again, weight gain may take place.
|Can I avoid
To help yourself gain only a small amount or no weight when you
stop smoking, try to:
regular moderate-intensity physical activity
snacking and alcohol
Consider using medication to help you quit.
worry about gaining a few pounds. Instead, feel proud that you are helping
your health by quitting smoking. Stopping smoking may make you feel better
about yourself in many ways.
Stopping smoking may help you have:
fresher breath and fresher smelling clothes and
wrinkles and healthier-looking skin
moderate-intensity physical activity
Regular physical activity may help you avoid large weight gains
when you quit smoking. It may help you look and feel good, and fit into
your clothes better. You will likely find that you can breathe easier
during physical activity after you quit smoking.
Try to get 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical
activity on most days of the week, preferably every day. The ideas below
may help you to be active every day.
Ideas for being active every day
a walk after dinner.
Sign-up for a class such as dance or yoga. Ask a friend to join
off the bus one stop early if you are in an area safe for
the car farther away from entrances to stores, movie theatres, or your
the stairs instead of the elevator. Make sure the stairs are well
Having more high-fat, high-sugar snacks and alcoholic drinks may
lead to large weight gains when you quit smoking. The ideas below may help
you make healthy eating and drinking choices as you quit
Healthy eating and drinking choices as you quit
not go too long without eating. Being very hungry can lead to less
healthy food choices.
enough at meal times to satisfy you.
Choose healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit or canned fruit packed
in juice (not syrup), air-popped popcorn, or fat-free yogurt, when you
are hungry between meals.
not deny yourself an occasional ”treat.“ If you crave ice cream, enjoy a
Choose an herbal tea, hot cocoa made with nonfat milk, or
sparkling water instead of an alcoholic beverage.
using medication to help you quit
Talk to your health care provider about medications that may help
you quit smoking. Some people gain less weight when they use a medication
to help them stop smoking.
Medications that may help you quit smoking
The patch and gum are available without a prescription from your
health care provider.
gain hurt my health?
A small—or even large—weight gain will not hurt your health as much
as continuing to smoke will. The health risks of smoking are
Health risks of smoking
Death—tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable
death in the United States. It kills more than 400,000 people in the
U.S. each year.
Cancer—smoking greatly increases the risk for lung cancer,
the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Smoking is also linked to
cancer of the esophagus, larynx, kidney, pancreas, and
Other health problems—smoking increases the risk for lung
disease and heart disease. In pregnant women, smoking is linked to
premature birth and low birth weight babies.
By quitting smoking, you are taking a big step to improve your
health. Instead of worrying about weight gain, focus on quitting. Once you
are tobacco-free, you can work toward having a healthy weight for life by
becoming more physically active and choosing healthier foods.
These brochures from the Weight-control Information Network (WIN)
can help you adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits:
Yourself & Your Family
Eating & Physical Activity Across Your Lifespan: Better Health and
Enough for You: About Food Portions
Step in the Right Direction
information on quitting smoking, contact:
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
National Cancer Institute
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Office of the Surgeon General
Weight-control Information Network
1 Win Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3665
Tel: (202) 828-1025 or
Fax: (202) 828-1028
The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a national
service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, which is the Federal
Government’s lead agency responsible for biomedical research on
nutrition and obesity. Authorized by Congress (Public Law 103-43), WIN
provides the general public, health professionals, the media, and
Congress with up-to-date, science-based health information on weight
control, obesity, physical activity, and related nutritional issues.
WIN answers inquiries, develops and distributes publications, and
works closely with professional and patient organizations and Government
agencies to coordinate resources about weight control and related
Publications produced by WIN are reviewed by both NIDDK
scientists and outside experts. This fact sheet was also reviewed by
Robert Eckel, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Biophysics,
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
e-text is not copyrighted. WIN encourages users of this e-pub to
duplicate and distribute as many copies as
Publication No. 03-4159
e-text posted: June