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Innov Clin Neurosci. 2014 Jul;11(7-8):50-4.

Marijuana and body weight.

Author information

1
R. Sansone is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine at Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, OH, and Director of Psychiatry Education at Kettering Medical Center in Kettering, OH. L. Sansone is a civilian family medicine physician and Medical Director of the Family Health Clinic at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center in WPAFB, OH. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or United States Government.

Abstract

Acute marijuana use is classically associated with snacking behavior (colloquially referred to as "the munchies"). In support of these acute appetite-enhancing effects, several authorities report that marijuana may increase body mass index in patients suffering from human immunodeficiency virus and cancer. However, for these medical conditions, while appetite may be stimulated, some studies indicate that weight gain is not always clinically meaningful. In addition, in a study of cancer patients in which weight gain did occur, it was less than the comparator drug (megestrol). However, data generally suggest that acute marijuana use stimulates appetite, and that marijuana use may stimulate appetite in low-weight individuals. As for large epidemiological studies in the general population, findings consistently indicate that users of marijuana tend to have lower body mass indices than nonusers. While paradoxical and somewhat perplexing, these findings may be explained by various study confounds, such as potential differences between acute versus chronic marijuana use; the tendency for marijuana use to be associated with other types of drug use; and/or the possible competition between food and drugs for the same reward sites in the brain. Likewise, perhaps the effects of marijuana are a function of initial weight status-i.e., maybe marijuana is a metabolic regulatory substance that increases body weight in low-weight individuals but not in normal-weight or overweight individuals. Only further research will clarify the complex relationships between marijuana and body weight.

KEYWORDS:

Body weight; cancer; cannabis; human immunodeficiency virus; marijuana; tetrahydrocannabinol; weight; weight effects

PMID:
25337447
PMCID:
PMC4204468

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