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Migraines much more likely for obese people, study says

September 11, 2013|By Mary MacVean
  • Obesity is associated with migraine headaches.
Obesity is associated with migraine headaches. (Photo illustration by Gary…)

Not that anyone needs one, but here’s another problem for obese people, especially women: They are much more likely to get even occasional migraine headaches.

A study published in Wednesday’s issue of the journal Neurology found that obese people were 81% more likely to have episodic migraines – those with 14 or fewer headache days a month – than people of normal weight. The research adds to a known connection between obesity and migraines.

“Previous studies have shown a link between people with chronic migraine and obesity, but the research has been conflicting on whether that link existed for those with less frequent attacks,” the study’s author, B. Lee Peterlin of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The information is important, he said, in part because people can lose weight – and perhaps lose the migraines, headaches that can be debilitating.

For the study, 3,862 people completed surveys. Their average age was 47.

The research found the strongest relationship between obesity and migraines among people younger than 50, white and female. No studies, the researchers wrote, have found an association between migraines and obesity in post-reproductive-age people.

The mechanism for the connection between weight and headaches is not known, the researchers said. But they suggested that the differing distributions of body fat and its metabolic functions could play a role. And they said, it’s possible that having migraines predisposes people to gaining weight.

Mary.MacVean@latimes.com

@mmacvean on Twitter

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