A new study finds people who use marijuana in the wrong way—and then quit smoking—are more likely to be overweight than they were prior to use.
This comes by way of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as part of the National School Sleep Partnership Act’s (NSSP) 2010 National School Component. Researchers found that marijuana use was associated with an increase in body mass index (BMI), a measure of a person’s weight.
Researchers who analyzed data from the 2013-2014 NSSP conducted a systematic review to determine the extent to which marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of being overweight or obese. They then conducted a meta-analysis of studies across several different types of research and examined the relationships between both marijuana use and weight.
“Marijuana continues to be a controversial topic regarding weight control, but we found that it raises a concern for many health issues,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the authors of the study.
“There’s a strong association between marijuana use and obesity. It’s very early in the study, but there is evidence that it raises a BMI higher.”
Marijuana, a marijuana plant, is classified as a dangerous addictive drug and is prohibited under federal law. While it is legal in some states, medical use of the drug is not.
Overweight and obesity rates rose dramatically over the previous two decades among adults in the United States. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, as of 2010-2013 the U.S. population was at risk for an increased rate of overweight and obesity of 7.3, or 13.4%, and 20.3%, respectively. These increased rates have been attributed to the rising health care expenses, increased health care utilization, and the increasing costs for healthcare related to obesity. Marijuana uses among youth are also rising rapidly.
The NSSP, which was launched in 1980 and is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, has conducted numerous studies that seek to answer this question and more. The latest report on the 2013-2014 survey provides data on use in 2012 and 2014. For this study, which also involved participating in a randomized research trial, researchers analyzed data from the National School Component study to determine the extent to which marijuana use was associated with marijuana use after marijuana use had ceased.
The study found the relationship
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