The prevalence of obesity in the general population is sharply lower among marijuana consumers than it is among nonusers, according to an analysis published online this week in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Investigators at the Louis Moureir Hospital in Colombes, France analyzed cross-sectional data from two representative epidemiological studies of US adults age 18 and older: the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) and the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication. Combined, the surveys included over 50,000 eligible respondents. Authors controlled for respondents’ sociodemographic characteristics, including age, ethnicity, educational level, marital status, and tobacco use, but they did not factor into account subjects’ physical activity or diet.
“The prevalence of obesity was significantly lower in cannabis users than in nonusers (16.1 percent versus 22 percent in the NESARC and 17.2 percent versus 25.3 percent in the NCS-R),” researchers reported.
They added, “The proportion of obese participants decreased with the frequency of cannabis use” — noting that respondents who reported using the substance ‘three days per week or more’ were least likely to be obese compared to those who reported ‘no cannabis use in the past 12 months.’
Authors concluded, “[E]ven if cannabis consumption increases appetite, people using cannabis are less likely to be obese than people who do not use cannabis.”
The study is the first large-scale trial to evaluate the association between cannabis use and weight in the general population.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the prevalence of obesity is approximately 34 percent among adults in the United States, contributing to 13 percent of total US mortality.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the study, “Obesity and cannabis use: results from two representative national surveys,” appears online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.