Despite being associated with “the munchies,” marijuana usage may actually help people to stay more fit and active, rather than gain weight. When compared with non-users, people who smoked marijuana regularly had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who never used it.
The idea that smoking marijuana can help people to be thinner is not a new one, but this research has discovered that regular usage of marijuana can actually help people be more fit.
Based on body mass index and lifestyle habits, they found that people who used marijuana more than five times a month had a lower BMI and were more likely to be physically active.
These “heavy users,” compared to people who never used it, had an average BMI of 26.7. The non-users had an average BMI of 28.4. In addition, the heavy users were also more likely to exercise than their counterparts.
These conclusions, published in the Archives of Osteoporosis, supports previous findings by other researchers on the topic. As one researcher, Isabelle C. Beulaygue from the University of Miami, stated, “There is a popular belief that people who consume marijuana have the munchies, and so [they] are going to eat a lot and gain weight, and we found that it is not necessarily the case.”
In 2013, a study published in the American Journal of Medicine showed the connection between marijuana and insulin levels. Users of marijuana generally had lower insulin levels and lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This was due to a reaction in insulin production, creating a defensive system against obesity. However, the exact way that marijuana causes these effects is still a mystery to the researchers.
According to two national surveys published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, “the prevalence of obesity is lower in cannabis users than in nonusers.” The waist circumference of the participants in the 2013 study was measured as lower in heavy users than in non-users, BMI was lower, and risk of obesity-related disease was less.
This calls into question other uses for marijuana as a weight-loss aid or supplement for those who are obese, as this number continues to rise steadily in the United States. Over one-third of Americans are obese, and more than two-thirds are considered overweight, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Obesity rates among children have tripled since the year 1980, and the number of teens considered obese has quadrupled.
Marijuana, although yet unproven in several medical cases, is being explored more and more as a way to treat or relieve symptoms of all kinds. Further research is being done to explore the exact connection between cannabis and weight loss, but until then, it is recommended that dosage recommendations are followed carefully.