- Smokers eat as many as 200 calories more than non-smokers per day.
- Smokers' diets are low in nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.
- Even former smokers eat more calorie-rich foods than non-smokers.
This is surprising because smoking has a negative relationship with incidence of obesity, as is pointed out in the journal. A report on the study said, "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable mortality and is associated with a variety of chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and stroke." It further added: "Despite lower rates of obesity, cigarette smokers have worse diets that are low in essential nutrients compared to nonsmokers and former smokers."
The sample size of the study consisted of 5293 American adults. The results showed that non-smokers typically consumed 1.79 calories per gram of food. On the other hand daily smokers consumed 2.02 calories per gram while non-daily smokers consumed 1.89 calories per gram. Even reformed or former smokers consumed more calories per gram of food that their counterparts who smoked. The study also earmarked foods that were missing from the calorie-dense foods of smokers- fresh produce or fresh fruits and vegetables.
This means that smokers are more likely to intake lower amounts of essential nutrients including vitamin C. A deficiency of vitamin C is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer- ailments that smokers are already at risk of. Researchers conducted the study by asking the participants to recall what they ate in 24 hours and calculating the mean dietary energy density (kcal/g) after after adjusting for factors like age, sex, race, educational attainment, socioeconomic status, beverage energy density, physical activity and BMI.
"Fruits and vegetables are low energy foods that contain high levels of antioxidant vitamins and fiber, so it is not surprising that multiple studies report lower fruit and vegetable consumption among smokers", said the study, adding, "Therefore, a diet quality measure that highlights fruit and vegetable intake and is associated with chronic disease may provide inroads to evaluation and treatment of cigarette smokers."