A link exists between obesity and migraines, according to a new study reported on September 11 by Reuters. When researchers examined periodic migraines, they discovered that obese people had almost twice as many severe headaches as normal weight adults.
"This suggests patients and doctors need to be aware that obesity is associated with an increased risk of episodic migraine and not wait until a patient has chronic migraine to address healthy lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise, and to choose medications that impact weight with care," commented lead researcher Dr. Lee Peterlin, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
What remains: A classic chicken and egg question. Researcher aren't sure if the migraines developed first, followed by obesity, or if the obesity resulted in migraines.
"If this helps of course to make people believe they should lose weight, that's great, but does it mean that reduction in weight will reduce migraine attacks, or treat migraines? That's a question they haven't addressed," noted Dr. Tobias Kurth, of the French national research institute INSERM and the University of Bordeaux.
As for the number of people impacted by this study: Lead researcher Dr. Peterlin estimates that 10 to 15 percent of people suffer from episodic migraines.
So what's the significance of this study on episodic migraines? Although former studies have linked obesity to chronic migraines, which occur on alternate days, less frequent migraines have not been as well documented in terms of the link to obesity...until now.
In their September 11 report, the researchers discovered that obesity was linked to an 81 percent higher chance of having episodic migraines. The link was particularly strong among women and everyone under 50 years of age.
In attempting to explain the link, Peterlin listed possible causes included less exercise and medications that impact weight gain. Learn more about help for headaches in this article offering Dr. Mehmet Oz's tips.