Go ahead, make jokes about “the munchies,” but a new study from the Conference of Quebec University Health Studies has found a correlation between smoking marijuana and reduced body mass index (BMI) among a group of Inuit adults living in the Arctic. The study included 786 adults aged 18 to 74.
Regular cannabis users had a BMI of 26.8 compared with non-users, who had a BMI of 28.6, after researchers controlled for age, gender, and other factors. There were other benefits; marijuana users also had lower fasting insulin and scored lower on a key measure of insulin resistance.
While the researchers did not endorse smoking marijuana, they did suggest that cannabinoids and cannabis “may be viewed as an interesting avenue for research on obesity and associated conditions.”
Commercial interests have taken note already, as this is not the first study to suggest that marijuana may have benefits for treating diabetes. A study released in February in the journal Obesity also found that regular cannabis users had lower BMI, lower percentages of fat, and lower fasting insulin.
Given the reputation that marijuana users have for overeating, what accounts for this paradox? Researchers suspect that the active ingredients in the plant may promote more efficient use of carbohydrates, making users less likely to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus as well as less likely to have elevated BMI.
If the active ingredients could be used therapeutically, this would create a different mechanism to treat obesity, since current drugs aim to curb appetite.