Obesity May Increase Migraine Odds

Study found risk of painful headaches rose with body weight, especially in younger women and whites

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It's possible that the lifestyle changes needed for weight loss cut the migraine frequency, rather than the weight loss itself, the experts said. People who eliminate processed foods, high-calorie foods and alcohol -- all of which can be migraine triggers -- could end up experiencing fewer headaches.

Unfortunately, the opposite could also be true if dieters introduce new foods that are migraine triggers. Some people may develop migraines when they consume certain sugar substitutes, for example. There also is limited data suggesting that people with severe obesity who exercise may have fewer migraines, Peterlin said.

"Our data and previous research serve as a call to researchers in the headache field to identify safe and appropriate treatment options for obese [people with] episodic migraines of all classifications and not just those who qualify for [weight-loss] surgery," she said.

Peterlin also suggested that physicians, in addition to providing lifestyle education to their obese patients with episodic migraines, take into account the weight-gain or weight-loss effect that migraine medications may have on their patients.

More information

Find out more about migraines at the American Academy of Neurology.

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