Dietary intake and nutritional status of US adult marijuana users: results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Public Health Nutr. 2001 Jun;4(3):781-6. doi: 10.1079/phn2000114.


Objectives: This study examined dietary intakes and nutritional status of marijuana users and non-current marijuana users in US adults aged 20 to 59 years.

Methods: We used data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 1988-1994. Information on self-reported drug use, including marijuana, was obtained as part of the NHANES III physical examination component. Nutritional status was assessed using height and weight, and blood biochemistries. Dietary intake was assessed using a 24-hour recall and a food-frequency questionnaire.

Results: Among adults 20-59 years of age, 45% reported ever having used marijuana in their lifetime. A total of 8.7% reported using marijuana in the past month. Current marijuana users had higher intakes of energy and nutrients than non-current marijuana users; however, body mass index (BMI) was slightly lower. We found higher cigarette-smoking rates and higher consumption of sodas and alcohol, specifically beer, among marijuana users than among non-current marijuana users. Marijuana users also consumed more sodium, fewer fruits, and more pork, cheese, and salty snacks. Nutritional status, using indicators of serum nutrients, serum albumin, haematocrit and haemoglobin, was similar between marijuana users and non-current marijuana users. Serum carotenoid levels were lower among marijuana users, independent of cigarette smoking.

Conclusion: Dietary intake was different among marijuana users than among non-current marijuana users. Although overall nutritional status was similar, serum carotenoid levels were lower in marijuana users. The long-term health effects of these differences in marijuana users deserve careful consideration in future research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / blood
  • Marijuana Abuse / physiopathology*
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Smoking* / blood
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Carotenoids