Saturday, July 16, 2011

Smoking DOES NOT Keep You Slim

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One of the reasons many young people-and women smoke is the perception that smoking helps control bodyweight. The answer to this is simple. The health effects of smoking are so extensive and so varied that it should not be considered a healthy means of losing weight! If you're willing to put aside the cancer and emphysema risk, carry on.

Or they might think that their habit serves as an appetite suppressant and they will gain weight if they quit smoking. They may be risking disease later in life, but at least they're preventing obesity today. But that contention has just been disproved.

A master's thesis by Lisa Webb from the Nordic School of Public Health (Nordiska högskolan för folkhälsovetenskap) in Sweden shows that smoking doesn't help you get thinner.

Traditionally, smoking is associated with lower relative weight (body mass index, BMI) but high abdominal obesity (waist-hip ratio, WHR) which is related at least as strongly as general obesity to multiple CVD risk factors and mortality.

While cigarette smoking has decreased in western countries, obesity has increased. Recent studies have suggested that today's smokers may have less weight problems than non-smokers.

"That's why I wanted to study whether the relationship between smoking and overweight has changed over time," said Lisa.

5907 male and female residents of Gothenburg, Sweden, aged 25-65 years,have participated in a study on the relationship between smoking and obesity. Two measure of body fat have been used: BMI (body mass index) and WHR (waist hip ratio). The thesis "Smoking in the age of obesity: an investigation of secular trends in body fat and cigarette smoking" shows higher WHR for male and female smokers but lower BMI for female smokers, as compared with non-smokers.

The conclusion: WHR was higher among smokers compared with non-smokers; a particularly noteworthy finding was that this difference increased over time. Thus, concern for obesity does not provide a valid reason to continue smoking; on the contrary, it may be a reason to quit.

Journal Reference

Lisa Webb. Smoking in the age of obesity: an investigation of secular trends in body fat and cigarette smoking. Master of Public Health, 2011-1. Nordic School of Public Health. To read this thesis in its entirety, please CLICK HERE.

Jee SH, Lee SY, Nam CM, Kim SY, Kim MT. Effect of smoking on the paradox of high waist-to-hip ratio and low body mass index. Obes Res. 2002 Sep;10(9):891-5. CLICK HERE to read the complete report.

What is WHR?

Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a measurement tool that looks at the proportion of body fat stored on your waist compared to that stored at your hips and buttocks. It's easily calculated by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference. When there is more weight concentrated around the middle it is often referred to as an “apple” shape; whereas, the greater proportion of weight concentrated around your hips is referred to as a “pear” shape.

Research has shown that individuals with extra weight located around the middle can be at higher risk for diseases such as heart disease and diabetes compared to those who carry more of their weight around their hips and thighs. Abdominal fat, when out of proportion to total body fat, can be considered an indicator of health risks. A waist circumference measurement of over 35 inches in women and over 40 inches in men can itself be a good indicator of increased risk for certain diseases.

Use this Rush University Medical Center calculator to determine your WHR:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

For men, a ratio of 0.90 or less is considered safe.
For women, a ratio of 0.80 or less is considered safe.

For both men and women, a WHR of 1.0 or higher is considered “at risk” for heart disease and other problems associated with being overweight.

WHR should be used as a guideline. Always consult your physician for more information regarding your health risks, body mass index (BMI), and the healthy body weight that is right for you.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

A good indicator of how much fat you carry is the Body Mass Index (BMI). Although it is not a perfect measure, it gives a fairly accurate assessment of how much of your body is composed of fat.

Use this Rush University Medical Center tool to calculate your BMI. Select your gender, then move the red slider handles. Or, select your height and weight to calcluate your BMI. The results of the BMI calculations will be displayed below. Note that these are approximate values, and are intended to be used only as a rough guide.

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