A randomized controlled trial to reduce post-cessation weight gain

Kinsey Pebley, Zoran Bursac, Robert C. Klesges, Jon O. Ebbert, Catherine R. Womack, Julia Graber, Melissa A. Little, Karen J. Derefinko, Rebecca A. Krukowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Objectives: Weight gain is a barrier to smoking cessation. Previous interventions targeting weight gain while quitting smoking have largely been unsuccessful. The current study aimed to assess the efficacy of weight stability and weight loss interventions compared to a low-intensity, self-guided bibliotherapy weight management group. Subjects/Methods: A randomized controlled trial with 12-month follow-up from 2018 to 2022 was conducted with participants (N = 305) who reported smoking at least five cigarettes per day for the last year and interest in quitting initially recruited from the Memphis, TN, USA area. Recruitment was expanded nationally with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, 276 completed 12-month follow-up. Interventions/Methods: The Bibliotherapy group was provided a weight management book. Both the Stability and Loss groups met via telephone for eight weeks to learn strategies for maintaining/losing weight, respectively. All three groups then received the same six-week smoking cessation intervention, with six months of varenicline provided. Results: Individuals in the Loss group lost more weight (−2.01 kg, SE = 1.58) than individuals in the Bibliotherapy group (+1.08 kg, SE = 1.49, p = 0.0004), while the Stability group (−0.30 kg, SE = 1.56) was not significantly different from the Bibliotherapy group (p = 0.17). Those in the Stability group did not gain a significant amount of weight. Participants in the Loss group did not gain back all weight lost after smoking cessation and ended the study approximately 2.01 kg lower than baseline. The Bibliotherapy group did not gain the amount of weight expected after cessation. There were no significant differences between groups related to self-reported smoking cessation at each time point except at eight-month follow-up (p = 0.005). Conclusions and relevance: Results indicated the Stability and the Loss interventions were effective for preventing post-smoking cessation weight gain, with the Loss group having the benefit of sustained weight loss. These interventions may be helpful to implement to combat weight gain and potentially facilitate smoking cessation. Trial Registration: The trial is registered on clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03156660). [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-478
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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