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In 2005, a team of medical researchers at the University of Florida published a small study which seemed to turn cannabis science on its head. Examining the charts of female adults who had been referred for obesity/weight management over a 12-month period, they found a clear inverse correlation between Body Mass Index (BMI, a common measure of obesity) and cannabis use; in other words, the more obses, the women examined, the less likely they were to be a regular pot smoker. Though relatively small in its sample size, the study nevertheless challenged commonly held stereotypes about “lazy stoners” eating all varieties of junk food.
The next year, a team from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) went even further. Their study, which examined almost 4,000 subjects over 15 years, confirmed many of the stereotypes of unhealthy eating are true – but stoners are thinner anyway.
The UCSF sample of regular cannabis users ate a much higher-calorie diet than nonsmokers (3,365 calories per day versus 2,746) compounded with considerably higher triglyceride (so-called “saturated fats”) intake, clearly evidencing a fattening diet. Yet, despite the fact the heavy cannabis smokers also drank alcohol at a rate nearly three times that of nonsmokers, their BMI tended to be lower.
But the most sensational results were still to come. In 2011, a French team examined the biometrics of over 50,000 individuals, looking for correlations between cannabis use and obesity. Their results are the starkest yet: even controlling for confounding factors such as age, sex, tobacco use and pregnancy, regular cannabis users were found to be up to a third less likely to be obese than nonusers.
Taken together, the results of these studies suggest stoners may be much thinner than the general population, despite leading otherwise unhealthy lifestyles. If this is the case – and studies like those cited seldom prove a causal relationship beyond all doubt – then a regimen of regular pot use, in lieu of alcohol and combined with a healthy diet and exercise, may be the most effective weight loss program ever devised.
“A regimen of regular pot use, in lieu of alcohol and combined with a healthy diet and exercise, may be the most effective weight loss program ever devised.”
It’s up to us not to ruin it. If the cannabis community can remember to reach for fruit not potato chips when set upon by the munchies, avoid alcohol and tobacco, and enjoy the greatest herb on the planet in the context of an active lifestyle of exercise, the rest of America will have to pay attention. Pass the kale and apple slices.