Michigan State University researchers have found that smoking dagga correlates to lower, not higher weight gain.
They had initially hypothesised that the infamous munchies would strike, marijuana users would eat more, and thus get fatter over time.
According to the university’s statement however after getting data from America’s National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions and looking at the Body Mass Index of 33,000 participants, ages 18 and up, they found users were more likely to be at a normal, healthier weight and stay at it.
“Only 15% of persistent users were considered obese compared to 20% of non-users,” Omayma Alshaarawy, lead author and an assistant professor of family medicine.
It wasn’t a huge effect, just under a kilogram for a 5 foot 7 individual, but it persisted across the entire sample.
So what is causing this? The researchers do not know – it might be behavioural, or it might be something to do with how cannabis interacts with the body.
One of the things I love seeing in scientific research is when a result goes completely against my expectations, because then I have the fun of trying to imagine how this could be the result.
Dagga has long been associated with helping people sleep. Scientifically one can’t say it does, the research is unclear in part because dagga has been illegal for so long that there just isn’t that much quality research into its effects, but it is a well known folk remedy for insomnia.
Now getting enough sleep can help weight loss, though not on the same level as dieting. If dagga works for insomnia, for a mild effect like the one Alshaarawy’s reporting I could see that actually being the cause.
Though this is purely speculation on my part, and as is the motto in most scientific research – more work is necessary to establish what exactly is going on here.