Washington: A bit of dialogue and support can be more effective than exercise in helping women not only keep off the weight, but also stay smoke-free, a new study has found.
"A lot of college women report smoking to keep their weight down. We think that by providing them with the tools to make them feel better about themselves, it alleviates some of those stressors," said Melissa Napolitano, clinical psychologist at Temple University, which carried out the study.
In a two-phased study, Napolitano and a team of researchers looked at the smoking habits and weight gain of women aged 18-24.
The first phase collected data from focus groups who stated that stress, peer pressure and weight management were the main reasons why they smoked.
Participants also felt that group-based programmes that provide ongoing social support would be instrumental in helping them quit.
Those results laid the groundwork for the project's next phase, dubbed Fit to Quit. This was a small pilot study of 24 women who were randomly assigned to either a supervised group exercise programme or body image group counselling sessions. All women were provided with a nicotine patch too.
After eight weeks, the body image counselling group showed a rate of smoking cessation that was more than double that of the exercise group, said a Temple release.
The body image group lost more than three times the weight than their exercise counterparts (3.3 pounds vs less than a pound).
These findings were presented this week at the Society for Behavioural Medicine's annual meeting.
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