A recent French study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, confirmed two things. One, “cannabis users are less likely to be obese than non-users,” and two, science is not immune to stereotypes.

 

Because of marijuana’s reputation for increasing appetite – known in some circles as “the munchies” – French researchers began their study expecting to find a correlation between obesity and cannabis consumption.

 

“We hypothesized that cannabis users would be more likely to have higher weight than non-users and be more likely to be obese,” said Dr. Yann Le Strat.

 

This, as it turned out, was not the case. “We found that cannabis users are less likely to be obese than non-users … we were so surprised, we thought we had [made] a mistake.”

 

The stereotype is so strong that the team decided something had to be off. Their numbers just couldn’t have been correct. Stoners couldn’t possibly be less likely to be overweight than non-pot smokers, right? So they examined an entirely different sample “and found exactly the same association.”

 

The study examined data from two surveys of U.S. adults. The results showed that cannabis smokers (those who smoke pot at least three times a week) were far less likely to be obese than non-cannabis smokers.

 

According to the two surveys used for the study 22 percent and 25.3 percent of those who abstained from marijuana were obese, compared to only 14.3 percent and 17.2 percent of pot smokers.

 

While the study’s findings appear to be positive news for pot, researchers are quick to spoil the buzz - even if it means swapping one stereotype for another. “The possibility that cannabis is associated with a lower risk of obesity remains an interesting hypothesis, but certainly does not counterbalance its negative effects on health and mental health.” 

 

Oh well. If nothing else, perhaps this study will help put an end to the Doritos-popping, Funyuns-loving, burrito-destroying stoner stereotype. 

 

 

Bonus: Did Hollywood get it right?

Are stoner movie characters more or less likely to be overweight? There’s Jeff Spicoli (Fast Times at Ridgemont High) but there’s also Jack Black (Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, etc.). Weigh in with your thoughts below…  

 
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