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Krukowski Awarded $3.3 Million to Study Weight Gain After Smoking Cessation

Dr. Krukowski,(third, left, pictured with her team from left to right: Dr. Karen Derefinko (co-investigator), Julia Graber (interventionist), Marisa McRae (interventionist), Rhonda Nabors (nurse coordinator), and Francisco Salgado (interventionist) ) is recruiting for her Fit & Quit Study. (Photo provided by Dr. Rebecca Krukowski/UTHSC)


Although quitting smoking leads to significant improvements in health, most people gain about 10 pounds when they quit smoking, which is a deterrant for some people. Ideally there should be treatment “packages” that would not require people to choose between quitting smoking and gaining weight.
Rebecca Krukowski, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a grant for $3.3 million over five years to test promising approaches to help individuals in the Memphis area manage their weight when they quit smoking. . She is working on this study with several collaborators from UTHSC, Karen Derefinko, PhD, Zoran Bursac, PhD, and Catherine Womack, MD.

Dr. Krukowski will begin recruiting for the Fit & Quit study this month. She is looking for 400 Memphis-area individuals to participate in the Fit & Quit study over the next three years. In Tennessee, 23 percent of adults are current cigarette smokers, which ranks Tennessee as 37th in the number of smokers. Furthermore, participants will also be recruited from neighboring areas of both Arkansas (ranking 49th in rates of smoking) and Mississippi, who ranks 47th in rates of smoking).

The goal of the project, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, is to see whether two promising, but intensive methods can avoid weight gain after quitting smoking. The clinical trial will enroll participants and randomly assign them to one of three study arms: a weight stability program focused on making small changes each day in eating and the number of steps taken; a weight loss program focused on larger changes to counteract the weight likely to be gained by quitting smoking; and a less intensive, self-guided weight management program prior to quitting smoking. “The really exciting thing about this study is that everyone is going to get tools to help with both weight management and smoking cessation,” Dr. Krukowski said.

Participants in all three study arms will receive, at no cost, phone sessions on how to quit smoking by trained counselors and six months of ChantixTM medication. “These two methods in combination are the most effective treatment that exists for quitting smoking,” Dr. Krukowski said.

If you are a current smoker and interested in this study, you can learn more about the study by emailing fitquit@uthsc.edu or calling 901-448-2000.