Obesity: A Real Headache

Obesity: A Real Headache

If you’ve ever experienced the pounding pain of a migraine, you probably want to do everything in your power to prevent the headaches. So here’s a new idea: Watch your weight.

According to a recent study of more than 3,800 adults, those who were obese were 81 percent more likely to have episodic migraines, the most common type, than those who were normal weight. Migraines are considered “episodic” if they happen on fewer than 15 days per month. (Is it a migraine or a bad headache? Here’s how you can tell.) The link between obesity and migraines was especially strong among women, Caucasians and people under 50.

What’s the link between weight and headaches?
One theory is that fat tissue may release inflammatory chemicals that trigger migraines. On the other hand, migraines could lead to obesity. Weight gain is a known side effect of migraine medications, and people who have migraines may be more inclined to behaviors associated with obesity, like being less active.

While the study doesn’t prove that obesity cause migraines, it does suggest that healthy lifestyle choices may be important for people who suffer occasional migraines. If you’re overweight, here’s what you can do to drop some extra pounds:

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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