Website: Weight Loss for College Students
In a two-phased study, Melissa Napolitano and a team of researchers looked at the smoking habits and weight gain of women aged 18-24. The first phase collected data from focus groups who stated that stress, peer pressure and weight management were the main reasons why they smoked. Participants also felt that group-based programs that provide ongoing social support would be instrumental in helping them quit.
Those results laid the groundwork for the project's next phase, dubbed Fit to Quit, a small pilot study of 24 women who were randomly assigned to either a supervised group exercise program or body image group counseling sessions. All women were provided with a nicotine patch as well.
After eight weeks, the body image counseling group showed a rate of smoking cessation that was more than double that of the exercise group (18 percent vs. 8 percent). In addition, the body image group lost more than three times the weight of their exercise counterparts (3.3 pounds vs. less than a pound).
Another aspect of the program relied on technology to reach their population of smokers. Text message and email were used to stay in contact with participants, more so than phone calls, because those were the preferred methods of communication among the young women in the study.
The results derived from this study have laid the groundwork for larger future studies at Temple and nationwide that focus on smoking cessation in college age women. The hope is to see if the results continue to hold true in studies with larger numbers of participants.