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Why Does Pot Blunt Weight Gain?

By Victoria Kim 05/15/13

A new study finds marijuana may help regulate blood sugar, reducing risk of diabetes and obesity.

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Despite the late night "munchies," pot users are less prone to obesity than non-users, past studies have found. And scientists have now found a link between marijuana use and blood sugar control that may explain why. Researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center examined data from more than 4,600 people—about half of whom were current or past marijuana users, and half who had never used the drug. They found that the current pot users had smaller average waist circumference than non-users, even after adjusting for factors like age, sex, cigarette and booze consumption, and amount of exercise. The pot users also had higher levels of HDL ("good cholesterol"). But the most significant difference was was in levels of insulin (a hormone that regulates the body's metabolism): current pot users' insulin levels were on average 16% lower and their insulin resistance was 17% lower, meaning their bodies can better control blood sugar than the non-pot users in the study. This could explain why marijuana users have a lower average BMI (Body Mass Index), as well as a reduced risk of diabetes (which is also related to weight gain). "These are indeed remarkable observations that are basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions," says Joseph S. Alpert, Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. But he says further research is needed to determine whether marijuana could be used in the future to assist with prevention and treatment of diabetes and obesity.

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