Cannabis users gain less weight despite the munchies

It's no secret that cannabis ("marijuana") can cause an increase in appetite typically referred to as the munchies, but that doesn't correlate with increased body weight, at least according to a new study out of Michigan State University. The results contrast with the popular belief that frequent cannabis use can result in weight gain due to increases in snacking activity.

The study was recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, where researchers detail the surprising result. Despite the increased appetite that comes with cannabis use, study participants who used the substance experienced less weight gain than other participants who didn't partake of the substance.

Data was acquired from the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, which included the BMI of 33,000 adults who were 18 and older. Across this entire population, the analysis found that cannabis users were, on average, 2lbs lighter than non-users.

Of the persistent cannabis users, 15-percent were obese compared to 20-percent of non-users. Though the difference of 2lbs is small, it is notable due to the large sample size and the vast behaviors impacting these people. However, the researchers caution that cannabis shouldn't be used as a weight loss aid.

There's no clear explanation for why users were less likely to be obese than non-users, but researchers speculate it may be due to those people having a greater awareness of their overall food intake. The increased appetite may cause the person to cut back during times of non-use, resulting in the modest difference. It's also possible the plant's compounds may have an effect on the body that reduces weight gain.