Weight change over eight years in relation to alcohol consumption in a cohort of continuing smokers and quitters.
Lycett D., Munafò M., Johnstone E., Murphy M., Aveyard P.
Stopping smoking results in weight gain. Avoidance of alcohol is often advocated to reduce cues to smoking, but the effect of alcohol consumption on body weight is unclear. We used regression models to examine weight change by baseline alcohol consumption in quitting and continuing smokers. Weight was measured at baseline and at 8 years, and weekly alcohol consumption was reported at baseline in participants from the Oxfordshire general practices nicotine patch/placebo trial. Of 698 smokers attempting to stop smoking, 85 were abstinent for 8 years and 613 continued to smoke. The association between baseline alcohol consumption and weight change depended upon smoking status (p for interaction = .019). In smokers, there was no association with weight change, 0.005 (95% CI: -0.037 to 0.056) kg per UK unit (U) (8 g of ethanol) consumed each week. This was unmodified by gender and baseline body mass index (BMI). In quitters, there was a negative association with weight change, -0.174 (95% CI: -0.315 to -0.034) kg per U consumed each week (unmodified by gender and baseline BMI). Quitters who consumed 14 U (112 g ethanol) a week weighed a mean 2.4 kg less than quitters who did not drink. Quitting smokers who drink more alcohol appear to gain less weight after quitting than those who do not drink. This is consistent across studies, it may be accounted for by unmeasured confounders or it may be that alcohol reduces weight gain. If alcohol reduces weight gain, the advice for quitting smokers must balance the benefits and hazards of alcohol consumption. However, there is currently insufficient evidence to advise quitters who drink little or no alcohol to increase consumption.