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Which is Worse, Obesity or Smoking?



I gained over 60 pounds when I quit smoking. Back then my doctor told me that it was better to quit smoking even if I gained weight. But now all I hear is that obesity is bad, bad, bad and going to kill me. Would I be better off if I started smoking again if it helped me lose weight? I know you are going to say that I should lose weight AND quit smoking, but what if that is not possible for me? Which is worse, smoking or being obese?


I agree with your doctor. Stay away from smoking! It is proven to cause cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. It should NEVER be used as a weight loss method.

I know that it can be challenging and frustrating to keep your weight down as you quit smoking, however realize that you will be more successful if you only focus on one change in your life at a time.

Make quitting smoking your first priority. Once you feel that you have this under control (which can take many months or longer), you can then make achieving a healthy weight your next priority.


As you mentioned, obesity is a concern because it can lead to the development of many other health issues (such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.).

Weight loss will be possible when you are ready. In the meantime, try to choose whole foods that will contribute to your health (fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, non fat dairy, and lean means & beans). Limit or eliminate fast foods, “junk foods,” sugar sweetened beverages, and alcohol (these provide many calories and very little nutrition).

To help you with your diet, you can visit as well as visit with a Registered Dietitian (RD). The RD will help you focus on realistic, achievable goals to meet your health needs.

So, be patient with yourself. You have already accomplished a BIG goal when you quit smoking. I have confidence that you can also achieve a healthy weight when the time is right. Good Luck!

For more information:

Go to the Obesity and Weight Management health topic.