If you’re reading this, you probably know that cannabis can treat all kinds of medical conditions, such as chronic pain, seizures, nausea, and insomnia. But studies now suggest that you can also use cannabis for weight loss.
How can a plant that’s known for giving people the munchies also help us lose weight? Shouldn’t marijuana be associated with weight gain?
This post will review how cannabis, a substance known for couch-lock and brownies, can actually be associated with weight loss.
Cannabis for Weight Loss
The relationship between cannabis and weight loss has only become noticeable in the last decade, most likely as the demographics of consumers—middle-aged moms, epileptic kids, and seniors, among others—have broadened with legalization in some states and countries.
In 2011, psychologist Dr. Yann Le Strat of the University of Paris published an analysis of two sets of survey data from 2001-03 in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The first came from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and showed that, of 43,093 survey respondents, 16.1 percent of cannabis users were obese versus 25.3 percent of non-users. The second set of data came from a survey by the National Comorbidity Survey–Replication. Of 9,283 respondents, 17.2 percent of cannabis users were obese, versus 25.3 percent of non-users.
The doctors corrected for tobacco smoking, sex, and age, and still concluded that the prevalence of obesity is lower in cannabis users than in non-users. The differences in obesity levels were even wider when heavy users (those who smoked cannabis more than three times a week) were compared with non-users.
Another study using existing statistics gives us an even wider view of the possible connection between cannabis for weight loss. Joseph Sabia, a professor of economics at San Diego State University, and his team pulled data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual survey given by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and found that from 1996 to 2014, in the 21 US states that had legalized medical marijuana, the likelihood of obesity decreased by 2 to 6 percent.
Sabia and his team posited two possible explanations for the weight loss. First, young people in legal states were less likely to binge drink on high-calorie beer when they consumed calorie-free cannabis. Second, middle-aged medical consumers were more likely to exercise because cannabis relieved them of health conditions that had kept them inactive.
Still No Direct Link
None of these researchers claim to have found causality, so the question of whether cannabis directly causes weight loss is still unclear. In fact, high-dose CBD was tested in a clinical trial of diabetic patients, and no weight loss was found.
Until more data is compiled to determine a link between cannabis and weight loss or particular strains and weight loss or hunger suppression, the best way to manage your weight while using medical cannabis is to be mindful of what you eat and to stay active.
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