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Quitting smoking can be a challenge. It’s a hard habit to break and cessation can lead to withdrawal symptoms and feelings of irritation, which can last days and even weeks. What also puts some people off is the idea that you’ll gain weight once you kick the habit. 

According to the American Cancer Society, people gain an average of 4.5kg when they stub out cigarettes for good. Nevertheless, Dr Ali Anwar, Specialist Pulmonologist, Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai, believes that the benefits far outweigh any risk of gaining a few kilos. “Gaining 4.5kg in weight is less harmful than smoking,” he says. “Smoking has many bad effects on your body — on your lungs, your heart and blood vessels.” 

Nicotine actually increases your metabolism, which is why, when you quit, you are likely to gain weight. “When you are smoking, it tends to stimulate your dopamine receptors and this keeps you active throughout the day,” says Dr Anwar. “This is related to its addictive nature.” 

A study from the Kyoto Medical Centre in Japan also found that heavier smokers have a tendency to put on more weight when they quit. The researchers looked at 186 people with an average age of 60. They found that people who smoked more than one packet of cigarettes each day, gained more weight after three months than lighter smokers. 

Dubai Health Authority and Aster Clinic offer a wide variety of support for people looking to quit cigarettes, ranging from the provision of nicotine patches and gum to counselling. If your concerns about piling on a few kilos are making you hesitant to stop smoking, a healthy diet and regular exercise is the simple solution to staying in shape and significantly improving your health.