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We all tend to get the “the munchies” from time to time as a side effect of smoking marijuana, but a new study claims that marijuana use can actually be linked to lower body fat and BMI, even though previous studies have shown an increase in appetite and weight gain.

Researchers at the University of Miami have recently studied the connection between marijuana use and body mass index (BMI) – a weight-to-height ratio that’s used as in indicator of obesity and underweight – in a nationally representative longitudinal sample. In their overall examination, published in the Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, researchers discovered that those who used marijuana had an overall lower BMI than those who don’t.

Researchers found that people in the study who used marijuana daily had about a 3 percent lower BMI (body mass index), on average, than those who did not use marijuana at all.

“There is a popular belief that people who consume marijuana have the munchies, and so [they] are going to eat a lot and gain weight, and we found that it is not necessarily the case,” said lead study author Isabelle C. Beulaygue, a research support specialist in interventional radiology at the University of Miami. [Marijuana Could Treat These 5 Conditions]

 In the study, the researchers analyzed more than 13,000 adults between ages 18 to 26. The researchers gathered body measurements to calculate the participants’ BMIs, and also tested the participants for marijuana use. Six years later, when the participants of the study were between ages 24 and 32, the researchers looked again at their marijuana use and BMIs.The researchers discovered that the BMIs of women who smoked marijuana daily during the study were 3.1 percent lower than the BMIs of women who did not smoke marijuana daily during the study period. It was also found that the BMIs of men who smoked marijuana daily were 2.7 percent lower than the BMIs of those who did not smoke marijuana, according to the study, published in September in The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics.

Due to their findings, researchers are hoping to help rid of the negative connotations and stigma that is greatly associated with increased appetite caused by marijuana use in relation to overall weight gain.

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