January 09, 2015
2 min read

Cannabis use linked with lower BMI in Inuit adults

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Cannabis use correlated with lower BMI in Inuit adults, and the connection was not due to glucose metabolic process or related inflammatory markers, according to research published in Obesity.

The association observed between use of the illicit drug and insulin resistance was mediated through its influence on weight, according to researchers in Canada.

“In this large cross-sectional adult survey with high prevalence of both substance use and obesity, cannabis use in the past year was associated with lower BMI, lower % fat mass, lower fasting insulin and (insulin resistance),” the researchers wrote.

“However, further adjustment for BMI rendered fasting insulin and HOMA-IR differences statistically nonsignificant between past-year cannabis users and nonusers,” they wrote.

Gerard Ngueta, a PhD student at Laval University, Québec, with Michel Lucas, PhD, of the Québec Research Center, and colleagues analyzed records from 786 adults who participated in the Nunavik Inuit Health Survey in 2004.

Data on cannabis use was collected through self-completed, confidential questionnaire. The investigators used fasting blood glucose, insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) as markers of insulin resistance.

The relationships between cannabis use and outcomes were determined based on covariance and multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Cannabis use was highly prevalent (57.4%) and associated with reduced BMI (P<.001), lower % fat mass (P<.001), lower fasting insulin (P=.04) and lower HOMA-IR (P=.01), with adjustments for several confounding variables.

Fasting insulin and HOMA-IR differences between past-year cannabis users and nonusers lost statistical significance upon further adjustment for BMI.

Mediation analysis demonstrated that the effect of cannabis use on insulin resistance was indirect, through BMI. Multivariate analysis showed past-year cannabis users were less likely to become obese than nonusers (OR=0.56; 95% CI, 0.37-0.84).

“There is growing interest in the endocannabinoid system and its possible influence on appetite, metabolism, and weight,” the researchers wrote. “As a result, cannabinoids from cannabis may be viewed as an interesting avenue for research on obesity and associated conditions.”

The researchers highlighted that although cannabis use is prevalent, adverse health consequences do exist and further research is warranted.

Disclosure: The Nunavik Inuit Health Survey was supported by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (Quebec) and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. One researcher received a doctoral fellowship from the Canada Water Network, Health Canada and the Ministry of Health and Social Services.