Researchers at CHU de Québec and the Université Laval in Canada published new findings in the journal Obesity indicating that cannabis use is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI). The study is entitled “Cannabis use in relation to obesity and insulin resistance in the inuit population.”
Obesity is considered a serious public health problem worldwide and is associated with the development of medical conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Obesity around the waistline or abdomen is known to increase the likelihood of developing insulin resistance (“prediabetes”). Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that controls the levels of sugar in the blood.
Cannabis is a plant used in diverse settings, including medical purposes, as a source of fibers and oils, or as a recreational drug. Recent studies have reported a connection between cannabis use and medical conditions like obesity and insulin resistance.
In order to better understand this possible correlation, researchers collected data from 786 Inuit adults registered in the Nunavik Inuit Health Survey (2004). Inuit refers to a distinctive group of indigenous individuals inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska. (The term “Eskimo” is often used in the United States and Canada to refer to the Inuit population.) The team collected data on the participant’s use of cannabis through a self-completed, confidential questionnaire.
Researchers found that 57.4% of the cohort used cannabis. Remarkably, its use was found to be associated with a lower BMI and percentage of body fat mass, and also, although less significantly, with a lower insulin resistance. The team reported that the effect of cannabis on insulin resistance was indirect, being driven by the BMI value. The researchers estimated that cannabis use was linked to a 0.56 lower likelihood of developing obesity.
The research team concluded that the use of cannabis is associated with a lower BMI and, consequently, with a lower insulin resistance and risk of developing prediabetes. The results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that cannabis use can help individuals maintain a low BMI; a finding particularly important given the rising obesity rates worldwide. Researchers agree that further studies on the impact of cannabinoid therapies should be conducted in order to establish their potential safe use in the management of obesity, together with a healthy diet and exercise.