Marijuana users weigh less compared to adults who don’t smoke according to new research from Michigan State University.
The Spartan study disproves the belief that users “have a serious case of the munchies” and gain weight.
“Over a three-year period, all participants showed a weight increase, but interestingly, those who used marijuana had less of an increase compared to those that never used,” said Omayma Alshaarawy, lead author and an assistant professor of family medicine. “Our study builds on mounting evidence that this opposite effect occurs.”
“We found that users, even those who just started, were more likely to be at a normal, healthier weight and stay at that weight,” she said. “Only 15% of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20% of non-users.”
Researchers looked at 33,000 participants over 18-years-old and results suggest that new and continuous users are less likely to be overweight or obese..
“It could be something that’s more behavioral like someone becoming more conscious of their food intake as they worry about the munchies after cannabis use and gaining weight,” she said. “Or it could be the cannabis use itself, which can modify how certain cells, or receptors, respond in the body and can ultimately affect weight gain. More research needs to be done.”
Alshaarawy cautions, though, that marijuana should not be considered a diet aid.
“There’s too many health concerns around cannabis that far outweigh the potential positive, yet modest, effects it has on weight gain,” she said. “People shouldn’t consider it as a way to maintain or even lose weight.”
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.