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Health Capsules
December 2009
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Comparing Medications that Help Smokers Quit

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death nationwide. Several prescription and over-the-counter medications can help smokers quit. But which ones are best? Few studies have compared their effectiveness.

To compare medications, NIH-funded researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied over 1,500 smokers who wanted to quit. The smokers were randomly assigned to receive different medications or no medication for up to 3 months.

The researchers found that people taking the nicotine patch plus the nicotine lozenge had the best success. About 40% of them were still smoke-free 6 months after their quit date.

About 33% of patients remained smoke-free when they’d taken other medications, like the nicotine patch or nicotine lozenge alone, the prescription drug bupropion (Zyban), or a combination of the nicotine lozenge plus bupropion. Only 22% of those taking no medications were still smoke-free at 6 months.

The researchers didn’t look at other common quit-smoking aids, including nasal sprays, inhalers and nicotine gum. They also didn’t evaluate the medication varenicline (Chantix) because it hadn’t yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the study began. More research will be needed to see what medications work best to help smokers quit.

Many effective strategies—with or without medications—can help you quit smoking. They include setting a quit date and getting support from others. To learn more about quitting for good, visit, or call 1-800-QUITNOW.

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Quitting Smoking

Free Help to Quit Smoking

No More Butts

  Improving Student Fitness

Researchers studying adolescents in low-income communities have tied several factors to better physical fitness. Physical education classes at school had the greatest positive impact on both fitness and weight.

Earlier studies have found that the environment we live in can affect our weight. For instance, some research has shown people are more likely to be obese if their neighborhoods don’t have sidewalks, or if they live far from a walking or biking trail.

Children who live in disadvantaged areas may have a higher risk for physical inactivity and obesity, which can contribute to various health problems. To see how the environment affects these kids, scientists studied over 9,000 7th and 9th graders from low-income communities in California.

The researchers found that nearly half the students were overweight or obese. Over half didn’t meet recommended physical fitness standards. But students who reported doing at least 20 minutes of exercise during physical education (PE) classes were leaner and fitter. Those who reported enjoying PE were more fit as well.

Although kids who walked to and from school were more fit, they were actually slightly heavier than their classmates. A closer look showed that these students were more likely to stop along the way for snacks.

These results point to potential policy opportunities to help improve students’ health.

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Shape Your Surroundings

Children Near Greenery and Groceries Less Likely to be Fat

Can Your Community Make You Heavier?


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Keep the Beat: Deliciously Healthy Eating

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