Chantix Side Effects on Weight Gain

Unhappy woman on scale
Weight gain may result from quitting smoking with Chantix. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Chantix, the brand name for the prescription drug varenicline, is used to help people stop smoking. It works in the brain to lessen craving, nicotine withdrawal, and satisfaction from smoking. Chantix treatment has been associated with weight gain. This is important because weight concern is common among smokers and its cosmetic effects may hold back attempts to quit. It is therefore important to understand about Chantix side effects on weight gain. [1]

Chantix and Weight Gain

Some studies suggest that if you take Chantix to quit smoking you may gain weight. In one report, researchers analyzed 62 clinical studies that tracked the amount of weight gain for people taking Chantix for up to one year. They found that a majority of people taking Chantix gained up to 22 pounds within the first three months of treatment and this weight gain was maintained throughout the one year of follow up. Approximately 10 percent of people gained more than 22 pounds after one year of Chantix treatment. [2]

Quitting and Weight Gain

You may also gain weight if who try to quit smoking without Chantix or other treatment. The study evaluating 62 clinical trials of smoking cessation demonstrated that about 70 percent of people quitting without any treatment gained up to 22 pounds after one year. Thirteen percent of untreated quitters gained more than 22 pounds after one year. These researchers also found that most of the weight gain occurred within the first three months of quitting. These results were similar to the group of people taking Cahntix to quit smoking. [2]

Factors Affecting Weight Gain

Several factors contributing to weight gain during smoking cessation have been identified. One study showed that after three months after quitting, triglyceride level, high density lipoprotein cholesterol level, amount of daily cigarette use and the degree of nicotine dependence were significant factors for weight gain. Of these, the factor most associated with weight gain was a high nicotine dependency. [3] Another study concluded that predisposing factors to weight gain from quitting smoking were black race, people under the age of 55, and smoking 15 or more cigarettes per day. [4]

Effects on Health Benefits

It has been suggested that gaining weight from smoking cessation may reduce some of your health benefits from quitting. To test this concept, one group of researchers evaluated change in cardiovascular risk of over 3,000 people without diabetes who gained weight form quitting smoking. They showed that people who quit smoking and had a modest weight gain of five to 10 pounds were able to maintain the benefit of lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Quitters had about half the risk of cardiovascular problems compared to smokers. [5]

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