For smokers who are looking to quit, but are afraid of the weight gain that comes along with dropping a tobacco habit, there could be an easier way.
A study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research reveals that vaping could be the answer. Researchers found that e-cigarettes could help smokers who are hesitant to accept the usual weight gain that comes along with quitting.
Co-author of the study, Linda Bauld, a professor of health policy at the University of Stirling and deputy director of the UK Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said that while electronic smoking isn’t healthy, it might be able to help prevent weight gain for smokers looking to quit smoking.
“We are not suggesting that we should promote e-cigarettes to people who haven’t smoked,” Bauld told The Guardian. “But for people who are thinking about the best way to stop smoking and are concerned about weight gain, I think what we are suggesting is that e-cigarettes should certainly be considered.”
Nicotine suppresses the appetite and increases the metabolic rate, so when a smoker quits, weight gain is possible. E-cigarettes could be a better option than nicotine replacement therapies due to a number of factors. E-cigarettes have a variety of flavors offered, which could be one way to stop cravings and prevent snacking, the study suggests.
“People can change their nicotine content, so to quit smoking they might start off on a higher strength e-liquid and then they can taper down really quite gradually in a much more sophisticated way than they can with NRT, which is probably good for weight maintenance and for weight loss,” Bauld said. “[When] You are re-filling the e-liquids, you might be mixing your own liquids, you are trying different flavours, you are doing things with your hands that take up time which means maybe you are not reaching for the bowl of M&Ms.”
The study focused on the influence of nicotine in the body, the relationships between aroma, taste and flavor and the feeling of fullness in order to determine the effectiveness of vaping. The authors said long-term e-cigarette use is questionable at best, but research does suggest that e-cigarettes could be the way to go in order to prevent weight gain.
“One of the things this paper says is [that] probably we shouldn’t be so worried about longer-term nicotine use, particularly if it can help people not put on weight – which we know is a bit risk factor for diabetes and a lot of other things,” Bauld said.
There is no definitive evidence that says e-cigarettes aid in weight loss, so they’re not recommended for non-smokers. Health specialists not involved with the research told Reuters that the findings should be taken with a grain of salt.
“E-cigarettes are an effective strategy to help people stop smoking and improve their health. If they also help smokers who quit to limit weight gain that would be a bonus, though not yet proven,” said Susan Jebb, a professor of diet and population health at Oxford University.