Will Marijuana be the Next Great Weight-Loss Scheme?

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Forget the Atkins Diet -- a new study has found that people who smoke marijuana are less likely to be obese than those squares who don't smoke pot.

According to a story from The Week, researchers in France analyzed data from two U.S. studies, looking at the weight differences between marijuana users and non-users.

They found that in both studies, pot users had relatively low rates of obesity -- 14.3% and 17.2%. Those who didn't smoke marijuana had obesity rates of 22% and 25.3%.

The findings surprised even the researchers.

"Cannabis is supposed to increase appetite," said Dr. Yann Le Strat, a psychiatrist at France's Louis-Mourier Hospital. "So we hypothesized that cannabis users would be more likely to have higher weight than non-users and be more likely to be obese."

At least one marijuana activist agreed.

"It's true," said Michelle Aldrich. "I don't know too many fat marijuana smokers."

As to why marijuana smokers seem to have less obesity despite eating mounds of chips, that remains a mystery. But theories abound.

"Maybe they're inclined to exercise more, be outdoors more, eat more fruits and vegetables," said dietician Andrea Giancoli. She also said the body's endocannabinoid system, a group of receptors, primarily in the brain, that respond to compounds in marijuana, could be at play here. Really though, no one knows.

But don't run out and find a drug dealer to score some weight-reducing pot.

"The take-home message is certainly not 'smoke cannabis, it will help you lose weight,'" said Le Strat. "The possibility that cannabis is associated with a lower risk of obesity remains an interesting hypothesis, but certainly does not counterbalance its negative effects on health and mental health."


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