When many people think of marijuana, however, the first thing that comes to mind is the “munchies” that are normally associated with its use. Some might wonder whether marijuana use is associated with weight gain, since being overweight is in itself a serious risk factor for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Interestingly, a recent study by researchers from Michigan State University, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that over a three-year period, marijuana users actually gained less weight than the study participants who did not use marijuana either casually or regularly during that time. (Related: Four science-backed health benefits of cannabis that are ignored by the mainstream media.)
As reported by NewsWise, the researchers based their findings on data obtained from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions. The Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) of 33,000 participants over the age of 18 were compared in relation to differences between marijuana users and non-users.
Surprisingly, the study revealed that new and persistent users were less likely to be overweight or obese. (Related: The marijuana diet -- How cannabis can help you lose weight and stay healthy.)
“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,” noted lead author, Omayma Alshaarawy. “Our study builds on mounting evidence that this opposite effect occurs.”
Alshaarawy also noted that even participants who had only recently started using marijuana were more likely to be at a healthy weight and maintain it in the longer term than non-users.
While 20 percent of non-users were found to be obese, only 15 percent of those who persistently used marijuana suffered from obesity.
While the actual weight difference among users and non-users was modest, around 2 pounds for a 5-foot-7-inch participant weighing about 200 pounds at the start of the study, the variance was prevalent among the entire sample size.
The researchers were not able to pinpoint the exact reasons for the differences in weight gain, but according to Alshaarawy, several factors might be responsible.
“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.”
Irrespective of the exact reasons that marijuana users don’t seem to gain weight, it will certainly be good news to those who do use it for medicinal purposes to know that they can reap the health benefits without being too worried about the effects of the “munchies.”
Learn more about some of the greatest health benefits of marijuana at CBDs.news.
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