Link Between Body Fat & Migraines?

Research has indicated that there is an association between higher body mass index (BMI) and migraines. The results were reported following an analysis of 12 studies involving 280,000 participants performed by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston [1]. While the exact mechanism is still not fully understood, it has been postulated that it is potentially due to an increase in and secretion of inflammatory mediators from adipose (fatty) tissue. An increase in certain hormones related to body weight can also play a role. Research findings also reveal that patients with migraines have changes in certain signaling molecules (such as IL-6), which are involved in inflammation and infection responses, metabolic, regenerative, and neural processes. Interestingly, studies found that both obesity and underweight status were associated with a significantly increased risk for migraines. While the risk for underweight patients was less, it was still significant.

While further research needs to be done to fully understand the mechanism, it is clear that both over and underweight patients are at a significantly higher risk of suffering from migraines. Achieving and maintain healthy and appropriate weight may alleviate, or at least lesson, the risk for migraines.

  1. Gelaye, B., et al., Body composition status and the risk of migraine: A meta-analysis. Neurology, 2017. 88(19): p. 1795-1804.