Smoking marijuana, aka weed, is a hotly debated topic.
Is it good for you?
Is it bad for you?
Are there actually medicinal properties?
As more states in the USA legalize weed, either for medicinal or recreational use, these questions become more crucial.
While marijuana has been shown to reduce stomach issues for those undergoing chemotherapy and to treat muscle spasms and chronic pain, weed has also been shown to increase appetite in those with HIV.
Keeping this in mind, why do people also think that smoking weed will help to reduce weight?
Could this actually help, but could there also be unintended side effects from smoking weed for weight loss?
Does Smoking Weed Make You Lose Weight?
While people have been smoking marijuana for as long as history can remember, up until recently, there was no proper research done on the effects of the drug.
A number of studies have been released over the last decade that indicate that while weight loss can be a side effect of marijuana use, it can also have unintended consequences.
The American Journal of Epidemiology (2011) – In this study, authors used data from two studies of over-18 year olds to compare weight and marijuana use. After adjusting for tobacco use, age, and biological sex, the authors found that people who smoked weed at least 3 days a week were less likely to be obese. Those who hadn’t smoked marijuana in the last year had a prevalence of obesity around 23%, while those who smoked multiple times a week had a prevalence of around 15%.
The American Journal of Medicine (2015) – The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for 2005 to 2010 provided the data for researchers to understand whether there is a correlation between metabolic syndrome (factors for obesity) and weed use. Over 8000 people aged 20 to 59 were studied. The results across all age brackets, divided between current-users, past-users, and never-users, indicated that current-users had the lowest rate of metabolic syndrome, with never-users having the highest, and past-users were between the two percentage-wise.
The American Journal of Cardiology (2006) – This longitudinal study found that for both black and white youths, marijuana use was not correlated with a higher body mass index (BMI) or higher lipid and glucose levels, which are all markers of obesity. However, this study cautions that marijuana users also tended to have other habits (tobacco use and alcohol use) that were unhealthy and that could lead to obesity or other problems.
The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (2010) – This two-decade-long study out of Australia showed that both males and females were at a lower risk of an overweight or obese BMI (greater than 25), especially those who smoked daily.
Phytomedicine (2012) – This study, done in rats rather than humans, found that the animals that were injected with an organic cannabis extract over a 28-day period were less likely to gain weight and had better protection of their pancreatic islets.
Overall, studies indicate that regular marijuana use leads to a smaller BMI. However, studies also indicate that marijuana use could be bad for your health, if not your waistline.
Public Health Nutrition (2001) -While this study, the oldest of the group of studies discussed here, also showed a correlation between weed use and weight loss (BMI was slightly lower overall for marijuana users), it also discussed the dietary habits of the users. The diet of a marijuana user had more sugars and more sodium, and their habits tended to include more alcohol and more cigarettes than those of a non-user.
Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience (2014) – This study, like the above study, also concludes that marijuana users are less likely to be obese. However, it also gives a number of reasons for why this could be true, including the fact that marijuana users also tend to use other drugs, including alcohol. The study also points out that there are differences for short-term and long-term weed users, with short-term use causing weight gain (for patients with HIV and cancer) and long-term use causing a lower rate of obesity. The study also suggests that food and drugs compete for the same reward sites in the brain, which may explain the long-term weight loss.
Overall, these studies indicate that marijuana users tend to have other habits that may contribute to bad health.
It seems as though everybody has something to say about whether or not weed helped them, or somebody they know, to lose weight.
Here are two stories from people who have different ideas about how weed affects weight loss:
“When I was 16, I started smoking pot. I weighed about 140 pounds. But 6 months later I had dropped to 120 pounds – that’s 20 pounds in 6 months! I didn’t do anything different other than smoking weed. […] When you ask me, does smoking weed make you lose weight? I tell you it does!”
“The thin people I know who smoke pot tend to have other problems, like not enough money for good food. They aren’t losing weight because they smoke weed. They are losing weight because they are spending too much money on weed!”
Is Smoking Weed Bad For You?
As stated in the “Bad News” section above, marijuana use does have its bad sides, although withdrawal is not one of those things.
However, if you watch what other habits you are picking up when you use marijuana, you may get all the good without much of the bad tagging along.
Keep in mind, though, that marijuana is a drug and it does have around 60 chemicals in it.
These can cause side effects like red eyes or a dry mouth, so make sure to do your research before deciding that marijuana is the perfect weight loss drug for you!
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