It has been hypothesised that the rising obesity rates in many countries worldwide are an unintended consequence of anti-smoking policies. However, evidence of a clear causal effect of smoking on an individual's body weight has been mixed.
Using a large nationally representative survey from Belarus, the authors of this paper estimate the effect of the number of cigarettes smoked per day on an individual's body mass index (BMI) and the effect on the probability of them being overweight and obese. The authors decided upon the smoking variable based on cigarette prices and sector-specific smoking rates and found that smoking is negatively correlated with BMI and that the probability of being overweight and the prevalence of obesity with the magnitude of the estimated effects is comparable to estimates from other countries.
In addition, the quantile regression analysis in the paper has revealed that the negative effect of smoking is higher for those with the higher percentiles of BMI distribution. Additionally, differences in effect were found using ordered probit regression analysis models and the results reveal a small negative effect of smoking on body size and obesity. These findings suggest that, while smoking cessation may lead to some weight gain among subjects of healthy weight and above healthy weight, the effects on obese subjects are small and should not be expected to significantly increase obesity prevalence in smokers.
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