Background: Smoking and obesity are two major modifiable leading causes of preventable mortality and morbidity worldwide. The relationship between smoking and body weight is still incompletely understood.
Objective: To examine the impact of active smoking, passive smoking, and smoking cessation on overweight and obesity in the Lebanese population, aged 18 years and above in Beirut.
Materials and Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 300 Lebanese adults aged 18 years and older were recruited. The Global Tobacco Surveillance System questionnaire was used to collect the data about smoking in the population studied. Anthropometric measurements (height, weight, and body mass index [BMI]) were also performed to test possible association between smoking status and body weight.
Results: No significant association exists between current smoking and body weight (P = 0.166), but smokers may have 2.59 times more chance to be overweight, 2.37 times to be obese, and 2.68 times to have a morbid obesity. Former smokers have a 0.15 times higher risk of being overweight compared to nonsmokers (odds ratio = 0.15, 95% confidence interval: 0.036-0.70]. Passive smoking at home was associated with lower BMI compared to nonsmokers (P = 0.034).
Conclusions: We conclude that smoking may be a crucial factor in overweight and obesity among men and women mainly who have stopped smoking. It may be expected that from a public health perspective the problems from weight gain do not outweigh the benefits from smoking cessation. There is a large unused potential to prevent weight gain among smokers before and after they quit. Overweight might probably be prevented by support of smokers who quit, for example, by the provision of information on weight control or by teaching coping skills. Furthermore, passive smokers should be provided with the information that the nicotine smoked prevents weight gain during the time of exposure and once quit weight gain will be unpreventable.
Key words: Body Mass Index; Overweight; Obesity; Smoking