Expectancies about the Effects of Cannabis Use on Eating Disorder Symptoms

Subst Use Misuse. 2020;55(11):1825-1833. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2020.1766503. Epub 2020 May 23.


Background: Substance use, specifically cannabis use, is common among individuals with eating disorder (ED) symptoms; however, few studies have specifically explored the relation between EDs and cannabis use. Purpose: The present study examined expectancies about the impact of cannabis on cognitive, affective and behavioral ED symptoms. Additionally, this study explored associations between cannabis-related expectancies, cannabis use and cannabis-related problems. Methods: Cannabis users with ED symptoms (N = 137) reported on frequency of cannabis use, cannabis-related problems and expectancies about the impact of cannabis on ED symptoms, Results: Participants expected cannabis to decrease restrictive eating, compensatory behaviors, and preoccupation with body shape and weight and fear of eating and weight gain. In contrast, cannabis was expected to increase binge-eating behaviors. Expectancies about the impact of cannabis use on ED symptoms were not associated with more frequent cannabis use nor were they associated with cannabis-related problems. Conclusions: These findings suggest that individuals believe cannabis will improve some ED symptoms; however, these expected improvements are not associated with increased cannabis use and problems. Future research should examine cannabis expectancies in clinical populations and should further explore the association between cannabis expectancies, use, and ED symptoms longitudinally.

Keywords: Cannabis; cannabis expectancies; eating disorder symptoms; eating disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Cannabis*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders*
  • Humans