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2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Marijuana has limited effects on BMI and physical activity in college students
Marijuana is one of the most frequently used drugs with over 8% of habitual users in the United States alone. Though marijuana has continued to gain some popularity, it remains shrouded in a cloud of confusion. There have been increasing debates on the positive and negative effects this substance can have on the body and it is now used as medicine for several ailments. During college many students are exposed to marijuana and it is important to determine what effects it may have. It is believed that marijuana increases appetite and, therefore, may increase body mass index (BMI). The relationship between marijuana use and BMI and physical activity levels was investigated in 202 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Kentucky. The participants included 104 female students and 98 male students from various majors and academic backgrounds. The students completed surveys to gather information on frequency of marijuana use, BMI, physical activity, and other drug use. The participants were broken into three categories based on frequency of use; daily and weekly smokers are frequent smokers, monthly, yearly, and rarely smokers are considered infrequent smokers, and the final group is non-smokers. The average BMI for non-users was 24.06 +/- 4.65 kg/m2 and the average BMI for daily users was 24.90 +/- 4.78 kg/m2. Additionally, 25.9% of the non-smokers surveyed and 24.0 % of daily smokers did not participate in regular physical activity. Out of those who responded to having used marijuana at least once, 75.0 % reported increased appetite after smoking marijuana. Although, the study did not find a significant difference in BMI in marijuana users versus nonusers the results did show that users experience an increase in appetite. It is important that college students know the effects marijuana can have on their health so that they may make well informed decisions.