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why do people put on weight when they stop smoking

It s an unfortunate fact that when smokers kick the habit, they often gain weight в a side effect that many smokers use as a reason for not quitting. Now scientists think they ve pinpointed the pathway in the brain through which nicotine helps suppress appetite, suggesting that it s possible to get the same effect without the cigarettes. ( More on TIME. com:
Nicotine works on many different receptors in the brain, including those in reward regions that contribute to addiction. But working with mice, a team led by Yale University School of Medicine psychiatrist Marina Picciotto found that the drug also binds to receptors on appetite-regulating neurons, which aren t involved in addiction. These neurons, located in the hypothalamus, send the I m full message after a meal, helping to regulate how much you eat. It helps explain why smokers aren t as hungry when they smoke, and why they tend to stay thinner on the habit. When they quit, however, many smokers tend to eat more, typically gaining on average about five pounds after quitting.


Picciotto believes that nicotine hijacks various neural circuits in the brain в those involved in reward, and now in appetite в and that understanding how the tobacco compound works on brain cells could lead to better cessation strategies. Understanding the link between nicotine and satiety, for example, could lead to new drugs that target the nicotine receptors on appetite-controlling cells, giving smokers a way to quit without the weight gain. Already, says Picciotto, there are plant-based quit-smoking drugs available in Eastern Europe that may work in this way, but further research needs to be done to determine whether they d actually help quitters gain less weight. ( More on TIME. com: If we had a medicine targeted at these receptors, then people who are not quitting smoking because they are afraid of gaining weight now might make the attempt, Picciotto says. That s a really exciting area of drug development.


Even if such medicines were to prove effective, however, they may come with side effects. The nicotine receptors that regulate fullness and appetite are also closely linked to the body s fight-or-flight stress response, in which the body revs itself up in the face of a threat. Activating these receptors could lead to increased blood pressure and heart rate, which may not be a good thing for anyone. The fear of weight gain shouldn t keep anyone from quitting smoking, a habit that is known to cause cancer and raise the risk of heart attack, stroke and various other health problems. And no one should wait around for a new drug that might help them stay slim. So Picciotto suggests that nicotine-based quit aids might help. ( More on TIME. com: The new was published in the journal Science. TK Baltimore (pronounced "Teak"), 34, a Web developer who lives in New York City, smoked for nearly 20 years. She's lost track of how many times she tried to quit. Here, she shares how she without gain, and how you can do it too.


Like a lot of people who smoke, I didn't have the most healthy lifestyle. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with extremely. My doctor told me that he could put me on, or I could try seeing if it was lifestyle-related by eating healthier and getting. Considering didn't run in my family and I knew what my lifestyle was like, I decided to try making some healthy changes, and that included quitting. I got advice from a nutritionist about cleaning up my diet without wanting to die. For example, I added a lot of whole grains to my diet -- brown rice, whole-wheat pasta. And I started sharing the yolks of my eggs with my dog when I made an omelet in the morning. But the biggest part was. I had been completely sedentary -- the only exercise I got was a ski trip once a year and walking around Manhattan. So I started going to the gym three or four days a week, doing and. Another thing that was important: When I, I avoided the bars, and I wasn't getting all those calories from alcohol!


I actually managed to lose about 20 pounds while quitting, and I've kept most of it off. I have to be honest, though. в I've definitely backslid with stopping smoking. It's hard, because my husband smokes too. We quit together, and when he started again, it was hard for me not to. It's really an ongoing process. On average, people who quit smoking gain about 10 pounds, according to Trina Ita, Quitline counseling supervisor for the American Society. Weight gain while quitting smoking can be traced to two factors. First, you eat more. If you're not smoking, you want to put something else in your. Since you now can smell and taste food better, things like sugary and sweet foods become very attractive. The second reason is metabolic. "Nicotine increases the. When you stop smoking, your decreases," explains Lirio Covey, PhD, director of the smoking cessation program at Columbia University in New York.

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