One reason for America’s expanding waistline has to be our extraordinary success in getting fewer people to smoke. Certainly I gained about 25 pounds in the three years after I quit smoking, a process I’m currently making progress on reversing by drawing on the kind of resources that, as Ambinder observes, working class and poor Americans generally don’t have access to. Smoking is an appetite suppressant. It’s also a substitute for snacking just in terms of having something to do. I found looking into it that nearly any realistic combination of mealtime options would be consistent with me losing at least some weight, but that the problem was snacking between meals (which would be easier to avoid if I just smoked a cigarette every time I thought I wanted to mucn) and then our second factor. Public health professionals don’t like to emphasize this point because they want to encourage people to quit smoking. But to an extent making progress on one public health problem has contributed to a second, albeit less serious, one.
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