Marijuana users may gain less weight than non-users, despite hunger, study suggests



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Among the most well-known effects of marijuana is the irresistible hunger that manifests itself by many people after use, referred to as "the munchies." No bag of chips, pack of Oreos, or anything sweet, salty or greasy is safe when the munchies start. So you might think that all this chewing would result in users gaining more weight, but a new study suggests that this is not the case & nbsp;– & nbsp;in fact, the opposite may be true.

Researchers analyzed Body Mass Index (BMI) data for 33,000 National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, comparing the BMI of marijuana users and non-users of 18 years or more over a three-year period.

They found a small average change in weight between users and non-users (about two pounds), but this modest difference remained true to almost the entire study group.

"An average difference of two kilograms does not look like much, but we find it in more than 30,000 people with all different types of behavior and yet we get that result," said lead author of the study Omayma Alshaarawy, assistant professor of family medicine at Michigan State University.

The study also found that marijuana users seemed to gain less weight over time than non-users.

"Over a period of three years, all participants showed a weight gain, but, curiously, those who used marijuana had a smaller increase than those who never used," said Alshaarawy. "Our study is based on growing evidence that this opposite effect occurs."

From others studies found a similar correlation between marijuana use and lower rates of weight gain and obesity, but the probable cause is still at issue. It may be that certain cannabinoid compounds from marijuana alter the metabolism in the opposite way that is popularly assumed, or it may be that users adapt the behavior to counterbalance the extra calories.

"It could be more behavioral, as someone becomes more aware of food intake while worrying about hunger after using cannabis," said Alshaarawy. "Or it may be the very use of cannabis, which can modify the way certain cells, or receptors, respond in the body and can ultimately affect weight gain."

Whatever the truth (and may well be a combination of metabolic and behavioral changes), the researchers emphasized that marijuana use should not be considered a diet stimulant.

"People should not consider this as a way to maintain or even lose weight," added Alshaarawy. "There are many health concerns around cannabis that far outweigh the possible, if modest, positive effects on weight gain . "

Along with this caveat, we must also add that this was an observational study for correlations rather than causation. This research does not prove that using marijuana aids weight loss – only that over a period of three years, the researchers observed a stable correlation. More research will have to fill in the gaps to understand why this correlation exists.

If you're wondering why marijuana triggers hunger – & nbsp;the latest research suggests that THC, the psychoactive compound of marijuana, triggers a cascade of brain activity in the neural networks underlying our sense of smell and taste. When this activity reaches a certain threshold, the brain responds as if we are hungry and the search for snacks is activated. & Nbsp; This is a discovery based only on experiments with ratsHowever, the precise mechanism of chewing in humans is still not entirely clear.

The study was published in The International Journal of Epidemiology.

You can find David DiSalvo at & nbsp;Twitter,& nbsp;Facebook& nbsp;Google Plusand on your site& nbsp;daviddisalvo.org

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Among the most well-known effects of marijuana is the irresistible hunger manifested by many people after use, known as "hunger." No bag of chips, pack of Oreos, or anything sweet, salty or greasy is safe when the munchies start. So you may think that all this chewing would result in users gaining more weight, but a new study suggests that this is not the case. in fact, the opposite may be true.

Researchers analyzed Body Mass Index (BMI) data for 33,000 participants in the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, comparing the BMI of marijuana users and non-users aged 18 years or over over a three-year period.

They found a small average change in weight between users and non-users (about two pounds), but this modest difference remained true to almost the entire study group.

"An average difference of two pounds does not look like much, but we find it in more than 30,000 people with different types of behavior and yet we get that result," said lead author of the study, Omayma Alshaarawy, an assistant professor of family medicine in Michigan. State University.

The study also found that marijuana users seemed to gain less weight over time than non-users.

"Over a period of three years, all participants showed a weight gain but, curiously, those who used marijuana had a smaller increase than those who never used," said Alshaarawy. "Our study is based on growing evidence that this opposite effect occurs."

Other studies have found a similar correlation between marijuana use and lower rates of weight gain and obesity, but the probable cause is still at issue. It may be that certain cannabinoid compounds in marijuana alter the metabolism in the opposite way that is popularly assumed, or it may be that users adapt the behavior to counterbalance the extra calories.

"It may be more behavioral, as someone becomes more aware of their food intake while worrying about hunger after marijuana use," said Alshaarawy. "Or it may be the very use of cannabis, which can modify the way certain cells, or receptors, respond in the body and can ultimately affect weight gain."

Whatever the truth (and may well be a combination of metabolic and behavioral changes), the researchers emphasized that marijuana use should not be considered a diet stimulant.

"People should not consider this as a way to maintain or even lose weight," added Alshaarawy. "There are many health concerns about cannabis that far outweigh the possible positive but modest effects on weight gain."

Along with this caveat, we must also add that this was an observational study for correlations rather than causation. This research does not prove that using marijuana aids weight loss – only that over a period of three years, the researchers observed a stable correlation. More research will have to fill in the gaps to understand why this correlation exists.

If you're wondering why marijuana triggers hunger the latest research suggests that THC, the psychoactive compound of marijuana, triggers a cascade of brain activity in the neural networks underlying our sense of smell and taste. When this activity reaches a certain threshold, the brain responds as if we are hungry and the search for snacks is activated. This is a finding based only on experiments with mice, however, the precise mechanism of chewing in humans is still not entirely clear.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

You can find David DiSalvo at Twitter, Facebook, Google Plusand on your site daviddisalvo.org

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