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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000003919).