Present and Future

UTHSC Earns $4.4 Million to Study Weight Loss Plan, Smoking Cessation

Memphis, Tenn. (November 11, 2010) The Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has received a $4.4 million grant to test a weight loss plan using interactive technology that will occur in conjunction with a smoking cessation program. The intervention targets young adult smokers who want to quit, but avoid weight gain that often occurs afterward. The study, Treating Adults at Risk for Weight Gain with Interactive Technology (TARGIT), is funded by the National Institutes of Health and will begin in December. TARGIT organizers currently seek 330 study participants ages 18 to 35.

Smoking cessation offers numerous health benefits; however, an unwanted side effect is associated weight gain, which occurs in about 80 percent of those who quit. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States today. Statistics indicate that the habit increases rates for coronary artery disease, chronic lung disease and lung cancer. Some individuals delay an attempt to quit smoking because they are concerned about weight gain, while others start to smoke, assuming the habit will help them avoid gaining weight.

"Young adult smokers who try to quit smoking are as successful as other smokers in breaking the habit, yet are at high risk for weight gain when they quit smoking," said Karen Johnson, MD, MPH, principal investigator of the TARGIT study and professor in the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine. "We believe that an easily accessible behavioral weight loss program targeted to young adults will be successful in helping smokers lose weight or prevent weight gain when they quit smoking."

To be part of the study, the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine seeks men and women between the ages of 18 and 35 who are normal weight or above, smoke 10 or more cigarettes per day, and want to quit smoking. Enrolled participants will receive free nicotine patches, access to a telephone tobacco-quit line, and interactive technology. Interested persons should call (901) 448-STOP (448-7867) or visit for more information about TARGIT.