A new research study, published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, has found that smoking does not lead to weight loss in teenage girls and may stunt the growth of teenage boys.
Many girls pick up the smoking habit in their teenage years in the belief that smoking will keep them slim however this research suggests a link between smoking and weight loss, may in-fact be a myth.
The researcher team, based at the University of Montreal in Canada, looked at data from the Nicotine Dependence in Teens study which involved 1,293 teenagers, initially between the ages of 12 and 13. The study continued for five years with data on height, weight, and triceps skin fold thickness collected every 3 months for the duration of the study.
The researchers found that 14% of teenage girls and 7% of teenage boys in the study smoked at least 30 cigarettes a month during the first half of the study and this increased to 18% of girls and 9% of boys over the second half of the study.
Researchers found that a 3 cigarette per day increase in cigarette use over a 2.5 year period led to a small 0.4 point reduction in BMI and a 0.7cm reduction in height for males and that on average teenage boys who smoked were 2.54 centimeters shorter than non-smokers. In females however no correlation between cigarette use and height or weight was found.
It had been thought that nicotine in cigarettes acts as a stimulant, increasing the metabolism of smokers however it appears this effect is negligible or may be canceled out by other compounds in cigarettes that act to slow down the metabolism.
According to the latest data by the American Cancer Society (ACS) on cigarette use by teenagers, 23% of high school students are current smokers (smoking at least once over the last month) while 9.4% are frequent smokers (smoking at least 20 times over the last month). The frequency of teenage smoking is 11% amongst African Americans, 16% amongst Hispanics, and 26% amongst whites.