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Migraines: A Weighty Issue?

By Ryan Halvorson on Jun 13, 2017

Migraines have long been a malady of unknown etiology, confounding medical practitioners and sufferers alike. A research review suggests that weight may be a factor.

The review included 12 studies and examined records from 288,981 individuals. Analysis showed that people with obesity had a 27% greater chance of developing a migraine than normal-weight people, while underweight individuals were 13% more likely to have a migraine than those of normal weight. Age and gender also correlated with migraine risk.

“Both obesity disease risk and the occurrence of migraine [are] more common in women and in younger people,” said lead researcher B. Lee Peterlin, DO, director for Johns Hopkins Headache Research.

Why weight might play a role in migraine development is not yet evident.

“It is not clear how body composition could affect migraine,” said Dr. Peterlin. “Adipose tissue, or fatty tissue, secretes a wide range of molecules that could play a role in developing or triggering migraine. It is 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.”

The study was published in Neurology (2017; doi:


Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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