Body Mass Index (BMI)
Long Story Short
Researchers at the University of Miami recently published an article that looked at connections between cannabis use and body mass index (BMI). Their conclusions were kind of surprising. Despite the fact that marijuana often gives people the “munchies,” these researchers found that regular cannabis use is actually linked to lower BMI.
In their study, researchers analyzed data from the National Longitude Survey of Adolescent Health. Their findings were published last week in the Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics.
After comparing certain health indicators between those who use marijuana and those who don’t, here’s what the researchers found.
- Females who use cannabis on a daily basis had a BMI that was an average of 3.1 percent lower than females who don’t use cannabis.
- The average BMI of male daily cannabis users was 2.7 percent lower than males who don’t use cannabis.
These findings might seem a little bit strange and unexpected. After all, smoking weed usually gives you the munchies. All those Doritos and pizzas are probably not the best route to weight loss. And yet, the numbers seem consistent. Those who smoke herb more often tend to have lower BMIs than people who don’t smoke weed.
While the researchers working on the project are clear about the stats, they’re less clear on why exactly cannabis use seems linked to low BMI.
“Future theory-based research is necessary to explore the . . . pathways underlying the negative associations between marijuana use and BMI,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “A broader understanding of such mechanisms along with causal elements will be most helpful to both policymakers and clinicians.”
This isn’t the first time scientists have looked at marijuana’s effects on body weight. At the end of last year, for example, researchers at San Diego State University and Cornell found that medical marijuana may be linked to lower rates of obesity.
In fact, it’s 2-6 percent less likely for a person to be obese if they live in a state that’s legalized medical cannabis. Researchers working on that project said the drop in obesity rates had to do with other lifestyle changes. For example, people who smoke cannabis tend to drink less than those who don’t use cannabis. That means fewer calories and a lower likelihood of gaining weight.
The most recent study seems more or less in line with earlier studies like this one. Together, this research could change a lot of assumptions about cannabis, the munchies, and body weight.