Study in Hazard to combine weight control, smoking cessation

Cris Ritchie — Editor

September 4, 2013

HAZARD – Researchers with the University of Kentucky are set to begin a study this month to evaluate the effectiveness of smoking cessation when coupled with weight management, and they’re looking for local residents to take part.

In 2012 Kentucky recorded the highest rate of smoking in the nation, and the 10th highest rate of obesity. This newly announced study, called “Put It Out and Keep It Off,” will seek to not only help people quit smoking, but also prevent weight gain that is normally association with quitting.

“We’ve noticed that people don’t like to quit smoking because of the concern that they’re going to gain weight,” said Srihari Seshadri, a doctoral student in Clinical and Translational Science at UK.

Seshadri’s study will incorporate the established Cooper/Clayton smoking cessation method with the National Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which will be used as the weight control component of the study.

“The result we’re hoping for is that the smoking cessation rates will be much higher, and there will be very limited or no weight gain after they quit smoking,” Seshadri said.

The study will stretch over 15 weeks, the first of which will begin with the Cooper-Clayton cessation method which incorporates weekly group sessions with a facilitator. By the second week, participants will be given nicotine patches and begin to receive additional information.

Participants will also be able to monitor the presence of carbon monoxide in their system through a breath test, and the reduction of the substance in their bodies as they quit smoking.

“When a smoker smokes, the carbon monoxide level in their blood will be high, so as they start to quit smoking they can themselves see that their carbon monoxide level is dropping down,” Seshadri explained.

By the fourth week, the nutritional component of the study will kick in as someone with a background in nutrition will begin working with the participants to help them manage their weight as they quit smoking.

So far eight people have signed up to take part in the study in Hazard, Seshadri said, and he’s hoping to have at least 10 in total by Sept. 12 to begin at the Little Flower Clinic. To sign up, participants must be smokers who are at least 18 years of age and not pregnant. Candidates must also have no significant psychiatric illness or major health issues.

Seshadri is currently overseeing a similar study in Bowling Green, and said this program could potentially represent benefits in Eastern Kentucky, where rates of serious health issues such as smoking, obesity, and diabetes are above the national average.

“Appalachia has a very high rate of both smoking and obesity, so we are thinking this would benefit people who are smokers and have been concerned if they quit smoking they will gain more weight, which would add more health issues,” he said.

There will be no cost to those who participate in the study, which is being funded by a grant from the University of Kentucky. Participants will receive $30 for filling out an initial assessment, and another $30 for a post-test evaluation after completing the program.

Space in the program is limited. Anyone interested can contact Beth Bowling at the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health in Hazard at 606-439-3557 or via email at beth.bowling@uky.edu.