Michigan State study shows marijuana users likely to weigh less than non-users

Researchers aren't sure why

BETHPAGE, NY - AUGUST 30: A woman rolls a marijuana cigarette as photographed on August 30, 2014 in Bethpage, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State University researchers discovered that people who use marijuana are likely to weigh less compared to adults who don't.

The study looked at people over a three-year period and while all participants showed a weight increase, those who used cannabis had less weight gain than those who had never used.

The study also indicated that new and persistent users are less likely to be overweight or obese, overall.

“We found that users, even those who just started, were more likely to be at a normal, healthier weight and stay at that weight," said Omayma Alshaarawy, lead author and an assistant professor of family medicine. “Only 15 percent of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20 percent of non-users."

The actual weight difference among users and non-users was around 2 pounds for a 5 foot, 7 inch tall person weighing 200 pounds at the start of the study.

“An average 2-pound difference doesn’t seem like much, but we found it in more than 30,000 people with all different kinds of behaviors and still got this result,” Alshaarawy said.

Researchers aren't clear on what it is about marijuana that's affecting weight.

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“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.”

Researchers said marijuana should not be considered as a way to maintain or lose weight.

BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 13: An activists smokes a marijuana joint prior to marching in the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 13, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. German proponents of cannabis legalization are hoping that the legalization in…

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Click here for a link to the original paper.

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