(HealthDay News) — Quitting smoking is associated with weight gain, according to a meta-analysis published online June 26 in Obesity Reviews, and clinicians are encouraged to help patients who are undergoing cessation achieve/maintain a healthy weight.

Jing Tian, from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania in Australia, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify weight gain after smoking cessation. Data were included from 35 cohort studies, with 63,403 quitters and 388,432 continuing smokers.

The researchers found that among quitters, the mean weight gain was 4.10kg and body mass index (BMI) gain was 1.14kg/m². Quitting smoking was significantly associated with absolute weight (adjusted mean difference, 2.61kg) and BMI gain (adjusted mean difference, 0.6 kg/m²), compared with continuing smoking. The difference in weight gain was greater in studies from North America than from Asia in subgroup analyses based on geographic region. The length of follow-up was a source of heterogeneity, with a greater difference in weight gain seen for studies with longer follow-up.

“Effective strategies are needed to encourage smokers to quit irrespective of potential weight gain and to help quitters avoid excess weight gain,” the authors write.

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