Geneva: Nervous nibbles alone do not explain the weight that people tend to gain when they give up smoking, Swiss researchers said today, turning the spotlight instead on a bacterial shift in the intestines. Studies have shown that quitting smoking leads to an average weight gain of four to five kilogrammes (nine to 11 pounds) in the first year. But according to researchers at Zurich University Hospital, former smokers who bulk up may not be eating more than before they kissed their cigarettes goodbye. Noting that even people who cut back on calorie intake after quitting smoking tend to gain weight, Professor Gerhard Rogler said he and his colleagues had discovered another potential explanation: a change in the composition of the intestinal flora among smokers who kick the habit. Their study, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and published in peer-reviewed scientific journal PLoS One, found that when a person stops smoking, the diversity of bacterial strains in their intestines shifts. It more resembles the gut flora found in people with obesity.
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