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New Year's Resolution 

Researchers suggest marijuana regulates body weight and insulin levels

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You're probably thinking about New Year's resolutions and the munchies. You're thinking that smoking a bowl and eating an entire bag of Cheetos isn't going to help you shed extra pounds. Well, you're not exactly right. Or wrong.

In 2013, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Nebraska found that although avid marijuana smokers consumed more calories — sometimes an extra 600 calories per day — users had significantly smaller waists and lower body mass index (BMI) compared to participants who have never smoked. Smokers also had higher levels of good cholesterol, even after adjusting for factors like physical activity, alcohol use, sex and tobacco.

Researchers analyzed data from 4,600 adults — 1,365 (nearly 30 percent) of whom reported never using marijuana — in an attempt to find a correlation between marijuana consumption and cardiovascular risk factors, BMI and caloric intake. The findings were published in The American Journal of Medicine as "The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults."

Approximately 12 percent of both African American and Caucasian participants identified as current marijuana users, and 42 percent reported smoking in the past. Results found that current smokers' insulin levels were reduced by 16 percent and their insulin resistance (where the body has difficulty absorbing glucose from the bloodstream) was reduced by 17 percent compared to non-smokers. None of these measures were impacted by the amount of marijuana people reported smoking.

Before stocking up food for the holidays, know this — researchers don't entirely understand the implications regarding weight and marijuana consumption. The findings merely suggest that marijuana "somehow" works to improve insulin control and regulate body weight.

If you're really trying to lose weight, cut back your calorie intake heading into the New Year. Get more exercise than it takes to light your buddy's 4-foot bong, and maintain the number of tokes and bong hits it takes to keep you grounded. ♦

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