Among the most well-known effects of marijuana is the irresistible hunger that kicks in for many people after using, referred to as "the munchies." No bag of chips, package of Oreos, or anything else sweet, salty or fatty is safe when the munchies begin. So you might think all of that munching would result in users gaining more weight, but a new study suggests that’s not the case – in fact, just the opposite may be true.

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

They found a small average weight variance between users and non-users (around two pounds), but that modest difference held true across nearly the entire study group.

"An average two-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," said lead study author 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 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," said Alshaarawy. "Our study builds on mounting 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 likely cause is still in question. It may be that certain cannabinoid compounds in marijuana alter metabolism in the opposite way popularly assumed, or it could be that users adapt behavior to counter-balance the extra calories.

"It could be more behavioral, like someone becoming more conscious of their food intake as they worry about the munchies after cannabis use," said 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.”

Whichever is true (and it could very well be some combination of metabolic and behavioral changes), the researchers stressed that marijuana use should not be considered a diet booster.

"People shouldn't consider it as a way to maintain or even lose weight,” added Alshaarawy. “There's too many health concerns around cannabis that far outweigh the potential positive, yet modest, effects it has on weight gain."

Along with that caveat, we should also add that this was an observational study looking for correlations, not causation. This research does not prove that using marijuana assists in weight loss – only that across a three-year period the researchers observed a steady correlation. More research will have to fill in the gaps to understand why this correlation exists.

In case you're wondering why marijuana triggers the munchies – the latest research suggests that THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, sets off a cascade of brain activity in neural networks underlying our sense of smell and taste. When that activity reaches a certain threshold, the brain responds as if we're starving, and the hunt for snacks is on.  That's a finding based only on experiments with mice, however, so the precise munchies mechanism in humans is still not entirely clear.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

You can find David DiSalvo on Twitter, FacebookGoogle Plus, and at his website, daviddisalvo.org

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Among the most effectively-identified effects of marijuana is the irresistible hunger that kicks in for numerous individuals following making use of, referred to as “the munchies.” No bag of chips, package of Oreos, or something else sweet, salty or fatty is secure when the munchies start. So you could possibly consider all of that munching would outcome in customers gaining additional weight, but a new study suggests that is not the case – in truth, just the opposite may well be correct.

Researchers analyzed Physique Mass Index (BMI) information for 33,000 participants from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Connected Circumstances, comparing BMI of marijuana customers and non-customers 18 and older more than a 3-year period.

They identified a smaller typical weight variance involving customers and non-customers (about two pounds), but that modest distinction held correct across almost the whole study group.

“An typical two-pound distinction does not look like a great deal, but we identified it in additional than 30,000 individuals with all distinctive types of behaviors and nonetheless got this outcome,” mentioned lead study author Omayma Alshaarawy, assistant professor of household medicine at Michigan State University.

The study also identified that marijuana customers seemed to obtain much less weight more than time than non-customers.

“More than a 3-year period, all participants showed a weight boost, but interestingly, these who employed marijuana had much less of an boost compared to these that by no means employed,” mentioned Alshaarawy. “Our study builds on mounting proof that this opposite impact happens.”

Other research have identified a equivalent correlation involving marijuana use and decrease prices of weight obtain and obesity, but the most likely trigger is nonetheless in query. It may well be that particular cannabinoid compounds in marijuana alter metabolism in the opposite way popularly assumed, or it could be that customers adapt behavior to counter-balance the additional calories.

“It could be additional behavioral, like somebody becoming additional conscious of their meals intake as they be concerned about the munchies following cannabis use,” mentioned Alshaarawy. “Or it could be the cannabis use itself, which can modify how particular cells, or receptors, respond in the physique and can in the end impact weight obtain.”

Whichever is correct (and it could pretty effectively be some mixture of metabolic and behavioral alterations), the researchers stressed that marijuana use ought to not be regarded a diet regime booster.

“Folks should not take into consideration it as a way to retain or even shed weight,” added Alshaarawy. “There’s also numerous wellness issues about cannabis that far outweigh the prospective constructive, but modest, effects it has on weight obtain.”

Along with that caveat, we ought to also add that this was an observational study searching for correlations, not causation. This study does not prove that making use of marijuana assists in weight loss – only that across a 3-year period the researchers observed a steady correlation. Additional study will have to fill in the gaps to fully grasp why this correlation exists.

In case you are wondering why marijuana triggers the munchies – the most current study suggests that THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, sets off a cascade of brain activity in neural networks underlying our sense of smell and taste. When that activity reaches a particular threshold, the brain responds as if we’re starving, and the hunt for snacks is on.  That is a finding based only on experiments with mice, on the other hand, so the precise munchies mechanism in humans is still not totally clear.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

You can uncover David DiSalvo on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and at his site, daviddisalvo.org