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2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Effects of smoking on the body mass index of college students.
Nicotine, a stimulant found in cigarettes, has been shown to reduce appetite and raise metabolism potentially leading to weight loss. Recently there has been an increase in smoking by teenagers for the sole purpose of trying to curb appetite and lose weight. To examine the relationship between smoking and body mass index (BMI), a study was conducted using 500 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky in the year 2010. The subjects in the study varied in age between 19-22 years old with 120 male and 80 female smokers. Participants completed a survey which included questions such as: when the participant began smoking, frequency of their smoking, do they smoke in combination with other drugs or alcohol, and do they feel smoking made an impact on their BMI. The BMI of female nonsmokers was 22.9 ± 1.5 and for smokers it was 23.4 ± 1.2. For male smokers the BMI was 23.2 ± 1.8 and for nonsmokers it was 23.4 ± 1.6. Both groups of smokers had activity levels graded as light meaning (30-60 minutes, 2-3 days/week), whereas nonsmokers were graded with moderate activity level (30-60 minutes, 4-5 days/week). Analysis of the data showed that 89% of females and 88% of males who smoke do so in combination with other drugs or alcohol. 8% of females and 5% of males confirmed that they felt smoking had impacted their BMI. Based on this information it can be concluded that smoking has a relatively small impact on the BMI of college students. This appears to be due to the fact that many of these students smoke while drinking or using other drugs that counteract the appetite-reducing power of nicotine.