Are you more likely to have migraines if you are obese?
The simple answer, for adults, is no.
The more complicated answer is sort-of. Obesity does not cause migraines in adults—the jury is still out on how obesity affects pediatric migraine
That’s the good news. The bad news is that migraine and obesity can have
a devastating affect on each other.
While obesity does not cause migraines, migraines, especially for people with migraines plus chronic daily headaches, can lead to obesity. People with migraines are likely to spend more time being sedentary, forced to inaction by the pain in their head. Additionally, many medications given to migraineurs cause weight gain directly, others cause it indirectly by increasing appetite.
Weight gain leads to depression in many people, which leads to more unhealthy behaviors (compulsiveness, hopelessness, increased inactivity, etc.) Inaction, weight gain, and increased appetite—a road that begins in migraine may well end in obesity.
Recent studies have divided migraineurs into different categories by their body mass index (BMI). The higher the body mass index, the more overweight the patient. The majority of the study participants were women, and median age was approximately 38 years.
Obese migraineurs, those with a BMI of 30 or higher, are far more likely to have extra problems with their migraines than people with a lower BMI are. Patients with higher body mass indexes reported more frequent headaches that lasted longer and were more severe than those experienced by lower BMI patients were.
There have been several studies on weight and headache prevalence, especially migraines, in children and teens. The initial results are a little frightening since almost all of them saw a correlation between a high BMI and incidence of migraines and other types of severe headaches (tension headaches, cluster headaches). All agreed, however, that more research is needed.