Health: Want to look like Kate Moss?

Well, put away your cigarettes. A new book suggests that smoking can give you a very unsexy pot-belly. By Louise Manson

It's hard to escape images of skinny models puffing away on cigarettes - including Kate Moss and fashion's latest hot property, Ben Jackson - so it is not very surprising that teenagers equate smoking with thinness and glamour. However, according to a controversial new book, smoking will not give you the taut, lean stomach of your dreams - in fact, you're more likely to end up with a pot-belly.

"What the cigarette advertisers don't say," insists Dr Alex Milne, a physiologist and the author of Smoking - the Inside Story, "is that smoking changes body shape, increasing the waist-to-hip ratio, piling on fat around the waist. Despite weighing less, smokers tend to be pot- bellied, with spindly legs."

We could be breeding a generation of pot-bellied adults. In the UK, more than 3,000 children between the ages of 11 and 15 get hooked on smoking every week. The number of teenage girls who smoke now outnumbers boys, as young girls are increasingly attracted to smoking in an attempt to emulate their idols, control their weight and look cool.

Patricia B, a 17-year-old sixth- former from west London, who started smoking at 13, is typical. She admits that the image had a lot to do with her taking up smoking.

She says: "Me and my best friend starting smoking Benson & Hedges because Noel and Liam Gallagher did - we saw it as part of a glamorous lifestyle and wanted to copy them. I still smoke Benson & Hedges, but more out of force of habit now."

"I was offered my first cigarette by a friend who said it would calm me down, after I'd had an argument with my parents. Most of my friends smoke constantly during the lunch hour rather than eat. They're on permanent diets, even though they are not fat. I get pounds 2 a day dinner money, and I spend it on cigarettes or we club together with friends to buy fags. So I don't eat lunch."

"I also feel under a lot of pressure to do well and look good - it's hard work holding it all together and smoking relieves some of the stress," Patricia B says.

Dr Milne says: "Teenagers also associate smoking with being grown-up, yet in reality fewer and fewer adults now smoke."

She suggests that smoking interferes with hormones, in particular the sex hormone oestrogen, which influences the body's shape. Amanda Sandford, of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, (ASH) agrees that there is evidence to support Dr Milne's theory.

"Although smokers tend to be slimmer, smoking affects the endocrinal system - the glands that secrete hormones - causing smokers to store the normal amount of fat in an abnormal way, which gives rise to the `apple' shape," Ms Sandford explains.

Apart from the risks associated with smoking, including lung and throat cancer, this body-fat distribution can lead to an increased risk of health problems, including high blood pressure, gall-bladder complaints, heart disease and diabetes (and also, in women, cancer of the womb and breasts).

The redistribution of fat usually takes several years to become apparent, with the exact rate depending on the body's metabolism. "But the good news is that when people stop smoking, the body-fat distribution can more or less revert to normal," says Ms Sandford. "And although people say that when they stop smoking they put on weight, they put it on normally, around their hips, and not the waist."

Joanna O'Malley, a 28-year-old ex-smoker, is convinced that smoking between the ages of 16 and 24 changed her body shape. Ms O'Malley says: "Smoking certainly didn't give me the perfect body or image. I started smoking at 16, partly because I was influenced by my mother, an ex-model. She is beautiful and glamorous and always looked very sophisticated smoking. I was soon smoking 30 a day and although I had slim legs, I had a bloated stomach, which doesn't look very attractive.

"As a teenager it is very difficult not to smoke, as smoking saves you from all those awkward social situations, like being alone at a party with no one to talk to. If I had a cigarette, I always had something to do - rummaging in my bag, or asking someone for a light."

"Although I was a quivering teenager, with a cigarette in my hand I thought I looked tough and cool. I swiftly moved from smoking light cigarettes to stronger ones. I remember smoking Camel filters and Marlboro Red and thinking they weren't strong enough. I wanted to take the filters out, which was what shocked me into quitting."

"Since giving up four years ago, I haven't put on any weight and my stomach has shrunk. I now realise that it was the smoking that was giving me such a pot-belly."

Ms O'Malley now practises "Vacuflex", a type of reflexology involving special vacuum boots, which many people believe can reduce stress, help detoxify the body and cut nicotine cravings (but don't expect your doctor to endorse this, and there is no compelling research to show that it works).

However, Amanda Sandford, of ASH, says there may be benefits: "A lot of complementary therapies do have relaxation as part of their treatment. Anything that will reduce stress stands a reasonable chance of helping someone stop smoking, so it can only be a good thing."

For further information, visit ASH's website at www.ash.org.uk

For a copy of `Smoking - the Inside Story' (pounds 7.99) by Dr Alex Milne, call 01825 723 398. Joanna O'Malley, a Vacuflex therapist and reflexologist, practises at the Heath Natural Health Clinic in London and Guildford (01483 893 845)

Smoking: the

Ugly Truth

CIGARETTES COULD cause:

A bloated stomach or pot-belly (caused by hormonal disruption)

Spindly legs (that oestrogen effect again)

Cellulite (possibly due to changes in fat distribution)

Facial lines, as nicotine restricts the uptake of oxygen into the capillaries

Lines around the mouth, caused by puffing on cigarettes, and around the eyes - squinting is a natural reaction against smoke

Yellowed teeth, fingers and nails, stained by tar

Bad breath, caused by the inhalation of smoke

A possible increase in facial and body hair, giving a generally "hairier" look

A dull complexion, caused by insufficient oxygen reaching the skin

Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home