Does Marijuana Cause Weight Gain?

As Marijuana is becoming evermore prevalent in our society today, many people ponder the consequences of this drug. Recently I had been thinking about how it is known that one gets what is called “the munchies” after participating in the smoking of weed. This effect of the drug inclines one to eat more than they usually would at that given time. I then began to question whether this period of increased intake of food caused a pattern of weight gain for regular users of marijuana.

When researching this question, the most consistent answer that I found was that Marijuana causes weight gain. However, there are two factors that seem to heavily alter this conclusion, which are gender and the smoking of cigarettes. The study explained in this article, tells us that in general, marijuana leads to weight gain in men if they do not also smoke cigarettes. This is because as marijuana stimulates more of an appetite, cigarettes stint appetite, therefore it evens out and the cigarette smokers will not gain the weight. The gender factor comes into play because girls who smoke both marijuana and cigarettes are not less likely to gain weight compared to girls who only smoke marijuana. The article explains that a part of the brain that controls hunger can be effected by the hormones found within women. The statistical analysis is found here, within the direct study of this topic.

With all of that being said, there were many studies that I came across that contradicted the one above and mentioned many third (confounding) variables. The study explained in this article found that the intake of marijuana results in lower obesity rates. It also talks about medicinal marijuana and that the illness of the person taking it, could be a cofounding variable. Another article, explains that people are actually losing weight when they begin to smoke marijuana because they become less likely to binge drink.

So, one might ask: What is wrong with the studies that are being done regarding this topic? It seems as if they are all looking at large enough sample sizes and the studies seem to be going on for a long enough time. However, all of the studies were completely observational. Studies can become more and more unreliable when they are solely based on observation because many variables can be effecting their results when they are not varying anything. I believe that if all of the people in the study had the same eating and exercise habits and were smoking the same amount of marijuana, the results might be more clear.

Similarly to the conclusion that we found in class about the question, “can prayer heal?”, there is no clear answer to whether marijuana causes weight gain because there are not enough studies that share similar data on this topic. small-meal

4 thoughts on “Does Marijuana Cause Weight Gain?

  1. Celine Degachi

    This was a good read. While I do believe the munchies are a real thing, I do agree that there are not enough studies to come to the conclusion that marijuana causes weight gain. Without an actual mechanism we can’t say that correlation equals causation. I found an article that talks about how marijuana eventually effects our education. This article was even written here at Penn State University Park, I really suggest you check it out!

  2. Tyler Mitchell Azar

    Great tie in to what we learned in class! As for marijuana causing weight gain, I found an article that says 1/3 fewer people are obese that smoke weed than don’t. This was a rather large study as well, with around 52,000 participants. There are, however, the possibilities of confounding variables such as the fact that cancer and AIDS patients often smoke marijuana for the pain they are in. That’s not to discredit the research you did for this post. As Andrew said, there are studies that show just about anything.

  3. Matthew Jacobs-Womer

    The munchies have always amazed me. From many resources I have seen that they are a real thing but then I have also seen that only a small amount of people get them and the rest just psych themselves into thinking they are hungry when they smoke. Obviously this is a hard subject to test because marijuana is just becoming legal but bottom line is that people like to eat more when they smoke week. I watched this video a few years back when I had to write a paper on the effects of marijuana on the body. Basically the snowboarder had trouble putting on muscle because he could not eat enough. So he decided to start using marijuana to stimulate his appetite to put on muscle. While he is a very small percentage that use marijuana for this reason, it seems to have worked for him.

  4. Olivia Watkins

    Nice article! I agree that there are not enough studies to factually say anything; however, a very, very common reaction to smoking marijuana is “munchies” (non stop eating). This alone could be enough evidence to say that it does cause weight gain. Some confounding variables that come to mind, if there were to be a study, are: rate of metabolism, what kind of “trip” is happening (better=more food, worse=less appetite), and if there is enough food to satisfy an individual.

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