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Mind over muscle
Date:4/24/2009

One in five women between the ages of 18 and 24 are smokers, and most say they keep lighting up for fear of gaining weight. But researchers at Temple University have found that when it comes to quitting, a little bit of dialogue and support can be more effective than an exercise plan in helping women not only keep off the weight, but also stay smoke-free.

"A lot of college--age women report smoking to keep their weight down and for body image reasons, and 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, a clinical psychologist at Temple's Center for Obesity Research and Education.

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 programs 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, a small pilot study of 24 women who were randomly assigned to either a supervised group exercise program or body image group counseling sessions. All women were provided with a nicotine patch as well.

After eight weeks, the body image counseling group showed a rate of smoking cessation that was more than double that of the exercise group (18 percent vs. 8 percent). In addition, the body image group lost more than three times the weight of their exercise counterparts (3.3 pounds vs. less than a pound). These findings were presented this week at the Society for Behavioral Medicine's annual meeting.

"Smoking has psychological and psychosocial implications, especially for young women," said Napolitano, an associate professor of kinesiology and public healt
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Contact: Renee Cree
renee.cree@temple.edu
215-707-1583
Temple University
Source:Eurekalert

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