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Obese people are more likely to smoke due to ‘addictive’ genes drawing them to nicotine

Obese people are more likely to smoke, new research suggests. 

For every 4.6kg/m2 increase in BMI, the risk of being a smoker rises by up to 19 per cent, a French study found today.

Genetic mutations may draw obese smokers to addictive behaviours, causing them to indulge in both nicotine and fattening foods, according to the researchers.

Previous research suggests smokers take in fewer calories, therefore obese people may start smoking to help them lose weight, the scientists add.

Alternatively, smokers may be more likely to have other unhealthy lifestyle habits that lead to obesity, such as a poor diet or being inactive.

Around 27 per cent of adults in the UK are obese, while approximately nine million smoke cigarettes.  

Obese people are more likely to smoke, new research suggests (stock)


A blow out breakfast, ‘average’ lunch and small dinner may be the best combination for those suffering from diabetes or obesity, research suggested in March 2018.

Obese diabetes patients following such a diet lose 11lbs (5kg) over three months compared to a 3lb (1.4kg) weight gain for those eating the traditionally recommended weight-loss plan of six small meals a day, a study found.

Sticking to just three meals a day of varying sizes also reduces diabetics’ glucose levels and insulin requirements, as well as their hunger and carbohydrate cravings, the research adds.

Lead author Dr Daniela Jakubowicz, from Tel Aviv University, said: ‘The hour of the day — when you eat and how frequently you eat — is more important than what you eat and how many calories you eat.

‘Our body metabolism changes throughout the day.

‘A slice of bread consumed at breakfast leads to a lower glucose response and is less fattening than an identical slice of bread consumed in the evening.’ 

Results further suggest fasting glucose levels decrease by 54 mg/dl (from 161 to 107) in those eating three meals a day group compared to only 23 mg/dl (from 164 to 141) in those consuming six.

Healthy levels are considered to be less than 108 mg/dl. 

Having breakfast as the main meal of the day also significantly reduces the need for insulin by -20.5 units/day (from 54.7 to 34.8) compared to those spread out throughout the day, which requires people have 2.2 more units a day (from 67.8 to 70).

Overall amounts of glucose in the blood are also lower just 14 days after adopting a three meal a day eating plan. 

Obese smokers have mutations linked to addictive habits  

Results further suggest that for every one unit increase in BMI, smokers get through an additional cigarette every day.

Obese smokers are more likely to have mutations on genes associated with addictive habits, the findings suggest. 

The scientists, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, wrote: ‘Our study provides evidence that differences in body mass index and body-fat distribution influence different aspects of smoking behavior, including the risk of individuals taking up smoking, smoking intensity and smoking cessation.

‘These results highlight the role of obesity in influencing smoking initiation and cessation, which could have implications for public-health interventions aiming to reduce the prevalence of these important risk factors.’

How the research was carried out  

The researchers analysed 372,791 adults with an average age of 58 from the UK Biobank.

Weight and height measurements were collected to determine the participants’ BMIs.

Their smoking habits were assessed via questionnaires or interviews. 

Genetic analyses were carried out to determine any mutations related to smoking or obesity.  

The findings were published in the BMJ. 

Omega 3 and 6 supplements may protect obese people from type 2 diabetes 

Omega 3 and 6 supplements may protect obese people from type 2 diabetes, research suggested earlier this month.

After just 12 weeks of having such supplements added to their diets, obese rats have lower glucose levels and improved glucose control, a study found.

Omega 3, which is in salmon, and omega 6, which is found in nuts, influence the expression of 135 genes that control the release of proteins that determine insulin production, the research adds.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when people’s bodies do not make or use insulin properly, leading to raised blood-sugar levels. It is associated with carrying too much weight.

Consistently high blood-glucose levels damage blood vessels, which can lead to kidney disease, nerve damage and blindness. 


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