Weight and migraines - What's the real relationship?

Let's face it – many of us could stand to lose a few pounds. And most of us don't like to admit to carrying around extra pounds. A study published in the journal Headache1 found that when people with migraine were asked to report their weight, their self-reports were significantly lower than what researchers found when they put these same people on a scale. But facing weight is important. The latest statistics from the National Institutes of Health2 report that two in every three Americans are overweight or obese. According to World Health Organization3, excess weight is a worldwide epidemic, listing excess weight as the fifth leading cause of global deaths. Excess weight increases your risk for a range of serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Excess weight is also a risk factor for a wide range of chronic pain conditions.

Skinny people also get migraines and weight problems don't cause you to become someone with migraines, but obesity is connected with pain severity. Increased weight is linked with increased sensitivity to pain. Fat cells release a range of chemicals, called cytokines, that increase inflammation and also change the pain response. Several articles have recently described a link between migraine and obesity, including a review articles in the journals Current Pain and Headache Reports4 and  Revue Neurologique 5and a patient resource published in the journal Headache.6

  • People who are obese have a higher risk of having migraines
  • People who are obese are at higher risk for the progression to more frequent or chronic migraine
  • Weight loss appears to result in migraine improvement

In addition, a new study called the Women's Health and Migraine (WHAM)7 trial is underway that aims to better understand the role of weight loss for reducing migraine frequency. Losing weight won't cure your migraines, but it may make them less severe and help prevent you from developing more frequent attacks or chronic migraine.

But decreasing weight can be tough. A recent article from PLOS One 8offers insight into successful a novel weight loss strategy. Researchers compared online social media networking through Facebook with obesity. In general, people accessing activity-related areas were 12 percent less likely to be overweight or obese. People accessing television-related areas, on the other hand, had a 4 percent higher rate of overweight and obesity. So check where you're spending your social media time. Try trading looking at sedentary pursuits with more physically demanding activities and see if that helps boost your weight loss.


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