Robert C. Klesges Contributes to 2012 Surgeon General’s Report

The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin held a press conference announcing the release of the 2012 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. Robert C. Klesges, PhD, was a major contributor to the report.

Today the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin held a press conference announcing the release of the 2012 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. The focus of this year’s report is Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults. Robert C. Klesges, PhD, a faculty member in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), was a major contributor to the report.

Dr. Klesges, along with colleagues at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of Iowa, contributed to the section entitled: Smoking and Body Weight: Is Smoking Associated with Body Weight in Youth and Are Concerns Related To Body Weight Associated With Smoking in Youth And Young Adults.

Key conclusions of this section were:
Overall, there is a widespread belief among youth that smoking controls body weight, a perception reinforced by the tobacco industry, which extols the weight control qualities of using tobacco in their advertising.
Using smoking to attempt to control weight is common and widespread in youth and young adults, particularly among females.
Most importantly, though, smoking does not control body weight in youth and young adults. Young people do not lose weight when they start smoking. In fact there is evidence that when young people start smoking, they actually gain weight.
Consistent with other Surgeon General Reports, when smokers quit smoking, they gain weight.

These conclusions will help guide future smoking prevention efforts, which counter the widespread perception that smoking controls weight. Indeed, when young people begin to smoke, they do not lose weight and many actually gain weight.

“What is important about our findings is that it removes a huge motivation for young people to start smoking,” Dr. Klesges said. “Since many youth — particularly young women — begin to smoke because they think it helps them lose weight, there may be fewer young people who start to smoke as a result.”

A five-time contributor to U.S. Surgeon General’s Reports, Dr. Klesges was also a recent contributor to the Institute of Medicine Report on Smoking and Smoking Cessation in the Military. He and his colleagues are conducting many ongoing large-scale studies to reduce smoking rates, particularly in military settings.