The olds among us might remember the French paradox. This was a dieting fad that emerged back in the ’80’s and crested about a decade ago with self-help book whose name falls somewhat short of Gallic sophistication: French Women Don’t Get Fat. The thesis—I’m working from memory here—was something like “We French get to smoke filterless Gauloises, eat double-lobes of foie gras and wheels of triple crème brie, and drink wine with every meal, and you Americans get to have all the heart attacks. Nyah-nyah!”
But at last America can have its retort: the weed-lovers paradox.
A study from SUNY Buffalo, shows that adult marijuana users in the US consume on average more soda, more alcohol—particularly beer—more salt, pork, cheese, and salty snacks, and they eat less fruit than nonusers. And yet, they are skinnier.
This study was cited, along with two other corroborating ones, in a 2013 clinical research study published in The American Journal of Medicine, which found that marijuana users were not only skinnier, but they also had lower levels of insulin and higher levels of HDL-C (AKA “the good kind of cholesterol”) than non-users. They also have lower blood levels of carotenoids, which is the stuff that turns carrots orange and may also be linked to adult onset diabetes.
For those of us who try to lead a healthy lifestyle, eat well, and limit the amount of substances we abuse, the cruel fact seems to be that habitual marijuana users take in more calories and yet are less inclined toward obesity and diabetes.
Of course, this was not a controlled study, so the pot might be a deceptive correlation. Maybe some overlooked factor is actually key—like maybe all the cannabis users also do yoga or bike to work or have tapeworms.
We can always hope.
There are other aspects of diabetes that cannabis might (or might not) help offset. You can find a more detailed breakdown of the research at NORML.