Is there a Link between Obesity and Migraine?

Is there a Link between Obesity and Migraine?

A migraine is an recurring, vascular headache, which affect approximately 6% of men and 17% of women globally. It may be disabling and severe. If left untreated, migraine headache may last up to 3-4 hours and sometimes, for more than 3 days.

The reason that puts you at the risk of migraine is unclear, but in some cases, it is known to be associated with obesity. Recently scientists at Johns Hopkins University chose 3,862 volunteers to investigate this matter. Based on their examination, researchers concluded that the adults with high body mass index (BMI), exhibiting the signs of being overweight or obesity, were 81% more prone to episodic migraines as compared to their counterparts with low body mass BMI.

The research revealed that the association between migraine and obesity was particularly true for women below the age of 50 and that these women are three times at a higher risk of having migraine than men. It also indicated that as the BMI increased, the chances of having migraine also increased.

Dr. Andrew Weil says that this investigation does not confirm that obesity leads to migraine, but it certainly indicates that obesity is a leading risk factor for migraine. There is a possibility that the medications that is used to prevent headaches like valproic acid or amitriptyline may lead to obesity.


Also, according to a theory, the inflammatory proteins that are deposited by body fat may cause the headaches. Whatever may be the case, the question in focus is that whether weight loss would lower the frequency or seriousness of the condition or it would completely war off the problem. Lead study author and director of headache research at Hopkins, Barbara Lee Peterlin said that although two researches demonstrated that patients experienced lesser episodes of migraine headaches after weight-loss surgery, more research is needed to prove the findings.

Dr. Peterlin mentioned in an article, published on the website of American Headache Society, that the obese individuals are more likely to develop the risk of chronic headaches as compared to migraine patients, who are not overweight. [1] In relation to weight loss, she added that not much evidence exists related to exercises for weight loss in lowering the frequency of headaches. In favor of her assertion, she refers to two studies – one indicating that frequency of migraine can be decreased by aerobic exercise, whereas the other depicting low-fat, weight-loss diet can reduce both the severity and frequency of migraine headaches.

Dr. Peterlin advices that if you are overweight and frequently suffer from migraine, then try to prevent gaining more weight and focus on reducing the extra weight that you have already gained. If you will succeed in losing weight, then certainly you will feel overall healthier and the normal BMI might help you decrease the frequency of migraine headaches.

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