Weed Smokers Are Skinnier, Says Harvard

April 20, or 4/20, is the unofficial national holiday for pot smokers that has increasingly become more relevant as debate swirls around the legalization of weed and the drug’s health benefits. It’s well-known that research has found medical advantages of marijuana for those suffering from diabetes, arthritis and chronic migraines, among other ailments. But a 2013 study conducted by scientists at Harvard University, the University of Nebraska and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical School also found a connection between weed and waistlines, showing that cannabis users have smaller waists and higher “good” cholesterol levels than non-users.

How can marijuana make you skinner if those who smoke it consume, on average, 600 extra calories a day? While results aren’t conclusive, the study suggests that smoking weed plays a role in insulin control, which regulates body weight and blood sugar levels. This, of course, seems relevant when thinking about cannabis as a diabetes treatment. But can pot actually help you lose weight?

While weed users have a healthier body profile than that of the general population, don’t pick smoking a joint over a trip to the gym. There’s contradictory evidence that pot promotes weight loss as it’s actually been used to increase appetite for underweight patients suffering from HIV or cancer. In addition, the health risks of smoking marijuana include strokes, heart attacks and testicular cancer.

Marijuana has been quite the conundrum for health experts and government officials alike. For those of us in the health and wellness industry, it seems best to view research conducted on cannabis with skepticism until more conclusive results are formed. In the meantime, whether your motto is, “It’s always 4:20 somewhere,” or the only grass you’re getting near is on your front lawn — continue to stay informed on what’s best for your body, so that you can lead a sustained healthy lifestyle.