Obesity is at an all-time high today. In fact, many Western countries consider it a kind of epidemic, spreading rapidly and causing painful, dangerous symptoms. Obese people are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other serious conditions. They’re also more likely to suffer from poor body image, anxiety and depression. So, it’s no wonder that the diet industry has been booming in the past decade. But while fad diets are debunked one after another, tried-and-true methods like eating healthy, unprocessed foods and exercising regularly are here to stay. And today, we’re finding that natural supplements like CBD could also help by making it easier to burn fat and eat less. Here’s how it works, and what it could mean for people with obesity.
What is obesity?
People are considered obese when they are overweight and carry too much fat. Doctors diagnose obesity by assessing a person’s weight and height to determine their BMI (body mass index). Someone with a BMI above 30 is obese.
However, this test is limited in its practical applications. To illustrate, an athlete with a lot of muscle mass could be considered obese by these standards.
That’s why it may be more useful to consider obesity as the condition of people who carry too much weight compared to their height and who have a high percentage of body fat.
What are the different types of obesity?
Obesity simply describes being overweight. However, many people fit into the category of obesity despite having different lifestyles and symptoms.
Many obese people have a sedentary lifestyle and eat an excessive amount of calories, particularly in the form of heavily processed food. This is often called lifestyle obesity.
However, other people are considered obese although they eat healthily and get plenty of exercise. Their reasons for being overweight may be a genetic condition, a hormonal problem or something else. This is often called illness-related obesity.
But whether obesity is caused by lifestyle choices or by other variables, it can be treated. It doesn’t have to be a lifelong condition.
Is obesity a disease?
Yes, In 2013, the American Medical Association decided to officially consider obesity a disease. It has identifiable symptoms and tends to impair normal functioning. It’s also a condition that can be treated with certain medical procedures or drugs.
However, some people disagree with that categorization. They argue that obesity shouldn’t be considered a disease, as a lot of “obese” people don’t experience any negative symptoms. Furthermore, some people argue that considering obesity a disease encourages people to see it as something uncontrollable, rather than as a result of poor lifestyle choices.
So, although obesity is considered a disease by medical authorities in most countries, many people continue to see it as a personal trait, instead of a serious condition.
What causes obesity?
There isn’t just one cause for obesity. The way the human body makes and keeps body fat is very complex, and the factors that cause someone to put on weight are varied.
The most well-known cause of obesity is overeating. Indulging in food that has more calories than you can spend causes your body to create new fat cells. Over time, this leads to obesity. Not exercising is another factor because it slows down your metabolism. The less you exercise, the fewer calories your body burns. As a result, it’s easier to gain weight.
Genetics also play an important role. Some people tend to put on more weight than others with the same diet, and this often comes down to your genes.
Finally, conditions that affect the hormones are responsible for obesity in a lot of people. Hypothyroidism, Cushing syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome all cause a hormonal imbalance. And because hormones are heavily involved in the regulation of insulin and fat storage, these conditions could make it extremely difficult to lose weight, even if you eat and exercise well.
Can obesity be cured?
Yes, obesity can be cured in the majority of cases.
People with lifestyle obesity can often cure their condition simply by exercising more and adopting a diet that fits them better. Something as simple as eating more whole foods and walking instead of taking the car could make a big difference in a person’s weight over the course of a couple of months.
The problem with lifestyle changes is that they can be difficult to make. People who overeat sometimes suffer from an eating disorder, or may feel that eating is their own way to deal with stress. This means that while lifestyle changes can be very effective, it could be very hard for people to follow them in the long term. One thing that may help is going to therapy while implementing lifestyle changes.
For people with genetic or hormonal conditions, lifestyle changes aren’t always enough. In fact, many people with these conditions already have a healthy lifestyle. In their case, addressing the imbalance that causes weight gain is often the best solution.
Finally, there are some medical tools that can help with weight loss. These can be used when other solutions haven’t worked, or when obesity creates severe symptoms.
Prescription medications can help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite or preventing the absorption of fat. However, these drugs should only be used in the short term and under the supervision of a medical specialist.
Surgery is also an option, helping people with serious obesity to eat less by decreasing the size of their stomachs. This is often a very effective option, although it can have serious side effects like any other operation.
Could CBD help?
For people who want to do more than just implement lifestyle changes, and who don’t want to risk the side effects of medication or surgery, CBD could be a useful alternative. Recent research shows us that this molecule helps to burn fat more effectively and could also normalize your appetite.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and is a cannabinoid compound. These compounds are found both in cannabis and in our bodies, and they play an important role in maintaining balance in the system.
Unlike the cannabinoid THC, CBD is not psychoactive, so it won’t make you high! However, its effects on the body and mind are still profound. Taking CBD gives a boost to the endocannabinoid system, which results in lowered pain, inflammation, nausea and blood pressure. It can also normalize appetite, mood and anxiety.
Today, we know that CBD is very useful in the medical field, treating conditions as diverse as epilepsy, IBD and high blood pressure. And according to some recent studies, it may be helpful in the treatment of obesity too.
CBD could normalize your appetite
The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in regulating appetite. This explains why cannabinoid compounds can affect your hunger levels. For example, the way THC affects the endocannabinoid system results in a sharp increase in appetite. With CBD, the opposite effect often occurs.
In a 2012 study, scientists gave daily doses of CBD to rats and observed their food intake. They found that with time, the rats progressively ate less and less. This suggests that CBD had an impact on their appetite.
However, we are still lacking human studies to back up this observation in order to consider CBD as an appetite suppressant.
CBD could help your body burn fat
Whether CBD helps your appetite is still up for debate. But one thing that’s even more interesting is that CBD helps your body burn more fat and increases your metabolism.
In a 2016 study, scientists observed how CBD impacted human fat cells. They found that CBD changed the nature of fat cells, turning them from white fat cells to brown fat cells.
White fat cells are responsible for causing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The more white fat cells your body stores, the less healthy you are.
On the other hand, brown fat cells help you burn more fat. They break down fat tissue, contributing to weight loss.
By changing white fat cells into brown fat cells, CBD could help you improve your metabolism and burn more fat. Of course, you’ll see the best results by exercising and eating well while taking CBD. After all, CBD only speeds up the process.
CBD could help your mental health
Finally, weight loss is a profoundly emotional topic for obese people. Eating less, restricting calories and restricting certain foods can create anxiety and a drop in mood. That’s why the anti-anxiety effects of CBD could be used to complement a change in lifestyle.
In this 2019 study, a large group of patients were given daily doses of CBD over the course of a couple of months. At the end of the first month, they reported much lower anxiety scores. This lets us know that CBD has the potential to fight anxiety and increase overall wellbeing.
In a 2018 study, researchers also found that CBD could act as an anti-depressant, promoting healthy brain chemistry. This study was conducted on mice, however, we have yet to see a long-term study on the anti-depressant effects of CBD on humans. However, testimonies and anecdotal evidence let us know that CBD may be a powerful tool in lifting mood and managing emotions.
As a well-rounded substance that could act on appetite, fat burning, and mental health, CBD shows a lot of potential in fighting obesity on multiple sides.
Is CBD legal? CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC are now legal in most Western countries. In the United States, they are legal on a federal level but may be prohibited by certain states. CBD products are not approved by the FDA.
How to take CBD for obesity: products and doses
If you are obese and wondering how to benefit from CBD, this section is for you.
First, let’s consider the different kinds of CBD you can find. CBD products can be divided into 3 broad categories: those you eat, those you smoke, and those you apply on the skin. For weight loss, the first two categories are the most relevant.
Taking a daily capsule of CBD can be a good way to get the substance into your body with regularity, and placing CBD oil drops under your tongue may be even better in terms of bioavailability. (link to article)
Vaping or smoking CBD could also be a good option, particularly if you struggle with anxiety or an eating disorder. These products allow you to dose CBD several times a day, giving you relief from difficult feelings and emotions when you need it. Vaping CBD whenever you have cravings for certain foods you are trying to avoid could also create a new, healthier habit. However, do bear in mind that smoking and vaping, to a lesser extent, can negatively impact your respiratory system.
In terms of dosage, we are lacking clinical studies on obese people to be able to give strong recommendations. With most long-term conditions, CBD works better in smaller quantities but taken daily. We would recommend starting with a low dose, under 10mg, and working your way up. For a more accurate recommendation on the dose to take based on your age, height, and weight, consult a health professional who is knowledgeable on CBD or medical cannabis.
Among the many benefits of CBD, we found that it may help fight obesity. Not only does it regulate appetite, but it also affects the working of your fat cells and your mood in a way that could help you lose weight. So if you’re looking for an effective alternative to medical weight loss strategies like surgery and medication, it could be a good option.
Effects of CBD on appetite
2012 study on CBD and appetite control
Effects of CBD on fat cells
2016 study on the effects of CBD on fat cells
Effects of CBD on mood
2019 study on CBD for anxiety and sleep
2018 study on the effects of CBD against depression on mice