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Can vaping help ex-smokers avoid weight gain?

Posted on October 27 2016

Smokers worry about weight gain after they quit. A group of researchers think vaping might be the answer

Did you worry about gaining weight when you quit smoking? A lot of people do worry, and for good reason. Smokers who quit gain more than 11 pounds on average in the first year after their last cigarettes.

But an academic article by an international group of health researchers suggests that vaping might be a way for smokers to avoid that problem. The commentary, titled “Could Vaping be a New Weapon in the Battle of the Bulge?”, was just published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

How do nicotine and flavors help?

As smoking in western countries has declined, rates of obesity have climbed. Along with weight gain come a lot of health problems. “Obesity is set to overtake tobacco smoking in many developed countries as the primary preventable cause of conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease,” they write. “Obesity is a complex condition that is challenging public health prevention efforts.”

It's a nice break to see researchers pointing at something good that vaping might accomplish.

The authors explain that nicotine prevents weight gain by suppressing appetite, and also by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. That’s why cessation products like Chantix and Zyban don’t help smokers avoid weight gain after they quit.

They suggest that while nicotine replacement therapies may help ex-smokers accomplish that as well as vaping, e-cigs have a possible advantage over NRT. Nicotine content in vapor products is a lot easier to customize than with pharma products like gum and patches. Lots of vapers have reduced their nic content gradually till they were at very low or zero-nic.

It's refreshing to encounter academics applying the benefits of low-risk nicotine to solving a health problem

“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,” co-author Linda Bauld told The Guardian.

She also said that the wide variety of e-liquid flavors might also work as substitutes for sweet snacks. Vapers often make the claim that candy and dessert flavors keep them from eating the real thing — although I have my doubts. But there’s no doubt that the further a vaper gets from burning tobacco, the better sweet and fruity flavors taste, and the more we crave them.

Vaping might be a good thing? Refreshing!

Two of the authors — including friend-of-vaping Marewa Glover — are from Massey University in New Zealand. The third, Linda Bauld, is from Stirling University in the UK. Bauld is also deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, and has also been involved in otherinteresting studies that have looked at e-cigarettes as potentially beneficial.

It’s a nice break to see anyone but vapers pointing at something good that vaping might accomplish. The usual fare, of course, is researchers studying vaping and vapers as though they might be harbingers of the fall of western civilization. It’s refreshing to encounter academics applying the benefits of low-risk nicotine to solving a health problem, rather than running away in horror. Almost as refreshing as this pineapple cake liquid I’m vaping. But not quite.


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