Despite cannabis increasing appetite, new research shows that cannabis users weigh less than those who do not use it.
The findings from Michigan State University and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, suggest that new and persistent cannabis users weigh less generally, and are less likely to be overweight or obese, overall.
Omayma Alshaarawy, lead author and an assistant professor of family medicine, said: “Over a three-year period, all participants showed a weight increase, but interestingly, those who used cannabis had less of an increase compared to those that never used.
“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. Only 15% of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20% of non-users.”
Why does cannabis impact appetite?
Researchers used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions and looked at the Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 33,000 participants, ages 18 and older, then compared the numbers.
While the actual weight difference among users and non-users was modest, around two pounds for a 5.7 inch participant weighing about 200 pounds at the start of the study, the variance was prevalent among the entire sample size.
Alshaarawy said: “An average two-pound difference doesn’t seem like much, but we found it in more than 30,000 people with all different kinds of behaviours and still got this result.
Alshaarawy indicated it’s still relatively unknown as to why cannabis has an effect on weight, but it could be several factors.
“It could be something that’s more behavioural like someone becoming more conscious of their food intake as they worry about an increase in appetite after cannabis use and gaining weight. 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.
“There’s too many health concerns around cannabis that far outweigh the potential positive, yet modest, effects it has on weight gain. People shouldn’t consider it as a way to maintain or even lose weight.”