One of the biggest components of leading a healthy life is proper weight management.
Being overweight or obese can contribute to many health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, reproductive problems, as well as many others.
How do you know if you are overweight or obese?
Health care professionals use a calculation called a body mass index, or BMI, to determine if someone is overweight or obese.
The calculation involves taking a person’s weight in pounds, dividing it by the person’s height in inches squared, and multiplying that number by 703. The final number is the person’s BMI.
A ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. A person who has a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 is considered to be overweight, and a person with a BMI of 30 or over is considered to be obese.
According to the United States Center for Disease Control, one third of Americans are obese.
BMI as a measuring tool is not without its limitations. A person could be short with a lot of muscle, such as a gymnast, and have a high BMI but be perfectly healthy.
Cannabis use has been associated with lower BMI
Cannabis has long been thought of by members of society as something that makes people fat.
Reefer madness propaganda and portrails of cannabis users on television have perpetuated stereotypes that cannabis users are lazy and get ‘the munchies.’
It is true that cannabis can induce a person’s appetite, which is a great thing for many cancer patients enduring chemotherapy and other treatments and look to cannabis to help boost their appetities.
But just because cannabis boosts a person’s appetite doesn’t necessarily mean that cannabis makes everyone fat that uses it.
There are a lot of other contributing factors that make a person fat (or not) such as lack of an active lifestyle, what a person chooses to eat, and the use of other substances.
A recent study looked at BMI levels among a group of participants which included regular cannabis users and non-cannabis users.
Stereotypes that cannabis opponents try to push would suggest that the cannabis users would have a higher average BMI than the non-user group, right?
Yet again, a reefer madness myth has been busted. Per the results of this study:
Results show that daily female marijuana users have a BMI that is approximately 3.1% (p<0.01) lower than that of non-users, whereas daily male users have a BMI that is approximately 2.7% (p<0.01) lower than that of non-users.
A difference of 2.7-3.1% is significant given the potential ramifications on a person’s health from having a high BMI rating.
Cannabis use has been associated with smaller average waist sizes
A study which was conducted in late 2014, and the results released in 2015 by the Conference of Quebec University Health Centers, also looked at cannabis and obesity rates, in addition to cannabis’ relation to insulin resistance.
The study concluded that cannabis use was assocatiated with lower BMI levels, and with it, lower fasting insulin rates among the cannabis user group in the study.
A study, the results of which were released in 2013, looked specifically at fasting insulin levels, and waist circumfrence sizes.
The study involved 4,657 men and women, and tracked them from 2005 to 2010. Of the participants, 2,554 fell into the cannabis user category.
As with the previous two studies, the cannabis user group was found to have a more favorable outcome with smaller average waist sizes and lower fasting insulin levels.
A study from 2011 looked at BMI rates and cannabis too, and found similar results to the previously cited studies.