Munchie Myth: Marijuana Users Less Likely To Be Overweight, Study Finds


  • New research shows people who use cannabis products tend to weigh less than non-users.
  • Only 15% of cannabis users were considered obese, compared to 20% of those who don’t smoke marijuana or use related products.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Having a case of the munchies has long been associated with smoking marijuana, but a surprising new study finds that cannabis users actually tend to weigh less than non-users, believe it or not.

The study, conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, shows that smoking marijuana or using cannabis products could actually be associated with preventing weight gain.

“Over a three-year period, all participants showed a weight increase, but interestingly, those who used marijuana had less of an increase compared to those that never used,” says Omayama Alshaarawy, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of family medicine at Michigan State University, in a release. “Our study builds on mounting evidence that this opposite effect occurs.”

Researchers say their results suggest that new and persistent cannabis users are less likely to be overweight or obese compared to those who don’t use cannabis overall. Data was collected from 33,000 people over 18 who who took part in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions.

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

The weight difference between people who used marijuana and those who didn’t was relatively small, about only two pounds for a 5-foot-7-inch person weighing about 200 pounds at the start of the study. But the contrast between participants was prevalent across the entire sample size.

“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,” says Alshaarawy.

The research team says it’s unknown why cannabis users tend to keep a healthy weight while non-users don’t, but it could a variety of factors.

“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,” says Alshaarawy. “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.”

While the results may be exciting to frequent pot users, the authors warn that marijuana shouldn’t be considered by any stretch as a weight loss or diet supplement among those looking for new ways to keep the pounds off.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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