Metabolic Syndrome Among Marijuana Users in the United States: An Analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data

Am J Med. 2016 Feb;129(2):173-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.10.019. Epub 2015 Nov 5.


Background: Research on the health effects of marijuana use in light of its increased medical use and the current obesity epidemic is needed. Our objective was to explore the relationship between marijuana use and metabolic syndrome across stages of adulthood.

Methods: An analysis of 20- to 59-year-olds (n = 8478) who completed the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys was conducted. Marijuana use was categorized as: never used, past use (used previously but not within the last 30 days), and current use (≥1 day in the last 30 days). Metabolic syndrome was defined as ≥3 of the following: elevated fasting glucose, high triglycerides, low high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, elevated systolic/diastolic blood pressure, and increased waist circumference. An age-stratified analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between marijuana use and metabolic syndrome among emerging adults (20-30 years), adults (31-44 years), and middle-aged adults (45-59 years).

Results: Fourteen percent (13.8%) of current marijuana users and 17.5% of past marijuana users presented with metabolic syndrome, compared with 19.5% of never users (P = .0003 and P = .03, respectively). Current marijuana users had lower odds of presenting with metabolic syndrome than never users (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.47-1.00; P = .05). Among emerging adults, current marijuana users were 54% less likely than never users to present with metabolic syndrome. Current (AOR 0.49; 95% CI, 0.25-0.97) and past (AOR 0.61; 95% CI, 0.40-0.91) middle-aged adult marijuana users were less likely to have metabolic syndrome than never users.

Conclusions: Current marijuana use is associated with lower odds of metabolic syndrome across emerging and middle-aged US adults. Future studies should examine the biological pathways of this relationship.

Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; Marijuana; Metabolic syndrome; NHANES.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult