Smoking, Weight Loss Intention and Obesity-Promoting Behaviors in College Students

Shawna L. Carroll, Myra L. Strother, Rebecca E. Lee, Harsohena Kaur, Kari J. Harris, Terry T.K. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine whether college smoking was associated with trying to lose weight and other weight-related behaviors. Methods: We surveyed 300 students at the University of Kansas about smoking (ever, current, and amount), weight loss intention (y/n), weight-related attitudes, and eating and exercise behavior. Weight, height, and body fat were measured. Results: About half the students (49%) self-identified as having ever smoked while 53 (17.6%) self-identified as current smokers. After controlling for sex, age, and ethnicity, ever smoking was not related to weight loss intention but was associated with greater pressure to maintain a healthy weight (p = 0.05), and having engaged in mild exercise on more days in the previous year (p = 0.05). Compared to nonsmokers, current smokers ate more at restaurants serving high calorie foods (p < 0.05) and ate more frequently in front of the TV (p < 0.01). Amount smoked was related to diminished use of exercise facilities (p = 0.03) and more frequent eating at restaurants serving high calorie foods (p < 0.05) and in front of the TV (p = 0.01). Conclusions: Current smoking among college students was related to weight loss intention. Despite wanting to lose weight, current smoking was concomitant with obesity-promoting behaviors such as eating higher calorie foods and eating in front of the TV. College-based interventions to prevent smoking initiation or promote smoking cessation should include a focus on healthy eating, exercise and healthful ways to lose or maintain weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-353
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2006


  • College health
  • Diet
  • Physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Weight loss


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