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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Jun;17(6):1301-5. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.36. Epub 2009 Feb 26.

Obesity and smoking: comparing cessation treatment seekers with the general smoking population.

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School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.


Obesity and smoking represent the leading preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. This study compared the prevalence of obesity among smokers seeking cessation treatment (n=1,428) vs. a general population (n=4,081) of never smokers, former smoker, and current smokers. Data from treatment-seeking smokers in the Wisconsin Smokers' Health Study (WSHS) and individuals who completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2006 were pooled and obesity rates and other health characteristics were compared. The prevalence of obesity was significantly higher among WSHS treatment-seeking smokers (36.8%) vs. NHANES current smokers (29.6%), but the obesity rates of WSHS treatment-seeking smokers did not differ from NHANES former smokers (36.5%) or never smokers (36.5%). Treatment-seeking smokers were more likely to be female and to have higher educational attainment compared to NHANES participants. Analysis of health characteristics revealed that treatment-seeking smokers had higher levels of dietary fiber and vitamin C and lower blood levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting glucose compared to NHANES current smokers. Results suggest that treatment-seeking smokers may have a different health profile than current smokers in the general population. Health care providers should be aware of underlying heath issues, particularly obesity, in patients seeking smoking cessation treatment.

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