Either Too Much or Too Little Weight Tied to Migraine Headaches

Either Too Much or Too Little Weight Tied to Migraine Headaches

By Staff

Being either obese or being underweight can increase your risk for migraine, according to a newly published study in Neurology.

“As obesity and being underweight are potentially modifiable risk factors for migraine, awareness of these risk factors is vital for both people with migraine and doctors,” said study author B. Lee Peterlin, DO, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “More research is needed to determine whether efforts to help people lose or gain weight could lower their risk for migraine.”

A total of 12 studies with 288,981 participants were included in the meta-analysis. After adjusting for age and sex, researchers found that obese people were 27% more likely to have migraine than people with normal weight ranges.  And, those who were underweight say a 13% greater likelihood of having migraine.

The researchers defined obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, while being underweight was defines as having a BMI less than 18.5.

According to Peterlin, the risk between obesity and migraine was moderate and similar in size to the link between migraine and bipolar disorders and ischemic heart disease.

Peterlin, noted that age and sex were important variables in the relationship between body mass index and migraine. “This makes sense, as the risk entailed by obesity and the risk of migraine is different in women and men and in younger and older people,” she said. “Both obesity disease risk and the occurrence of migraine is more common in women and in younger people.”

She continued, “It’s not clear how body composition could affect migraine. Adipose tissue, or fatty tissue, secretes a wide range of molecules that could play a role in developing or triggering migraine. It’s also possible that other factors such as changes in physical activity, medications, or other conditions such as depression play a role in the relationship between migraine and body composition.”

Limitations of the meta-analysis include that for half of the studies people self-reported that they had migraine and for more than half of the studies people self-reported their body mass index.


Do YOU suffer from migraine? June is Migraine Awareness Month, and we think it’s a great opportunity to increase awareness. That’s we’re collaborating with U.S. Pain Foundation, to raise public awareness in an effort to take a step towards creating better outcomes, increased access to migraine care and empower those diagnosed with migraine. We will be collecting reader submitted migraine stories between now and the end of June, and publishing them as “MYgraine Stories”, until the end of June, along with our regular daily content. Click here for more information on submitting a story for consideration.

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Authored by: Staff

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Jean Price

So…it may NOT be the WEIGHT at all…but rather something ELSE which varies DUE TO the person’s excess weight??!! Seriously!? Hmmm, then would those with PERFECT WEIGHTS not have migraines?! Well, I suppose I can tell the people I know who are of NORMAL WEIGHT that they shouldn’t even be having their migraines!! Or, perhaps one could ALSO deduce that LIFE itself is tied to migraine headaches!! Oh my! How did they come up with all of this?! Patients’ self reporting isn’t exactly hard science! Too many variables and no real control! Not much meaning, either!

Tim Mason

My migraines are always triggered by a flash of bright light either off a mirror, windshield of a car or accidently catching the morning sun coming thru a window. The point of origin is always in my right eye then the following series of events occur:
1. Inability to focus on an object due to loss of vision area in right eye
2. Dull headache on right side of head
3. Slight nausea.
4. Severe headache
5. Extreme nausea
I can easily reduce the intensity or even quench the on set of the headache between steps 2 and 3 above by taking 600 mg of aspirin and covering by eyes with a cool cloth and setting motionless for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Interesting note: All migraine medications contain the parent portion of the molecule of serotonin which is also in tryptophan and several prescription migraine drugs. This is easily visualized by printing out the drug structures and laying them side by side.