Association between smoking and total energy expenditure in a multi-country study

Abstract Background The association between smoking and total energy expenditure (TEE) is still controversial. We examined this association in a multi-country study where TEE was measured in a subset of participants by the doubly labeled water (DLW) method, the gold standard for this measurement. Methods This study includes 236 participants from five different African origin populations who underwent DLW measurements and had complete data on the main covariates of interest. Self-reported smoking status was categorized as either light (<7 cig/day) or high (≥7 cig/day). Lean body mass was assessed by deuterium dilution and physical activity (PA) by accelerometry. Results The prevalence of smoking was 55% in men and 16% in women with a median of 6.5 cigarettes/day. There was a trend toward lower BMI in smokers than non-smokers (not statistically significant). TEE was strongly correlated with fat-free mass (men: 0.70; women: 0.79) and with body weight (0.59 in both sexes). Using linear regression and adjusting for body weight, study site, age, PA, alcohol intake and occupation, TEE was larger in high smokers than in never smokers among men (difference of 298 kcal/day, p = 0.045) but not among women (162 kcal/day, p = 0.170). The association became slightly weaker in men (254 kcal/day, p = 0.058) and disappeared in women (−76 kcal/day, p = 0.380) when adjusting for fat-free mass instead of body weight. Conclusion There was an association between smoking and TEE among men. However, the lack of an association among women, which may be partly related to the small number of smoking women, also suggests a role of unaccounted confounding factors.