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Marijuana & the Munchies

Marijuana gives you the munchies.

That is not speculation, that is a well-known fact!  When consuming marijuana our brains release receptors telling our bodies that we are hungry, causing the munchies.

Because marijuana does stimulate the appetite it is commonly used for people who have problems with loss of appetite due to medical conditions or the side effect of medications.  It would seem then that those who use marijuana would gain weight and may even be overweight.

Researching the different subjects related to marijuana use is always interesting to me.  You can see how information, questions, and knowledge have evolved along with the attitudes of the population.

A study in 2015 from Universite de Montreal suggested that cannabis users did gain weight, and there were significant differences between those who used nicotine and those who did not, and they noted that weight gain may have had different effects on people based upon their gender.

Conversely, in 2017 Men’s Health looks at using marijuana as a way to lose weight. They cite a study from 2011 that was published in the Journal of Epidemiology that said that marijuana users were less likely to be obese, and other studies showed that cannabis users were more likely to have smaller waists and lower cholesterol levels regardless of other factors including age and gender.

Researchers had found that the THC in marijuana did not have much of an effect on the weight of mice of normal weights, but obese mice showed a reduction in weight.  The hypothesis is that THC caused changes in the gut the microbiome that regulates weight loss and digestion. Studies from Poland, Italy, Hungry, Canada, and the UK have shown the same results.

A 2006 study published by the University of California followed 4000 people for fifteen years, and participants were divided into cannabis and non-cannabis users.  The cannabis users consumed 600 more calories per day than non-consumers, however, there was no change to the BMI of the group that did use marijuana.

Forward to the March 2019 International Journal of Epidemiology and another study on possible weight gain because of  the increased calorie consumption of cannabis users. This study followed participants over a three year period and found that everyone in the study gained weight during this time frame, however, the participants who used marijuana had less of a weight increase than those who had never used marijuana.

“We found that users, even those who just started, were more likely to be at a normal, healthier weight and stay at that weight,” Omayma Alshaarawy said. “Only 15% of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20% of non-users.”

It is still not yet known why marijuana users are not gaining the weight that non-users do.  The researchers had speculated that it might be a conscious behavioral issue where the users are aware of the potential weight gain and take measures to prevent it, or it could be a result of the marijuana itself.

Researchers are again cautioning users, or potential users to not consider using marijuana as a way to maintain or even lose weight because of the other health concerns involved.

Connie Maxim-Sparrow