Can obese migraine sufferers decrease headaches by losing weight?

Researchers from Italy and the USA believe losing weight can decrease headaches and improve the quality of life of obese migraine sufferers. Results from a study to be presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans, La will outline how meta-analysis of 473 patients in 10 studies found that weight loss was linked with significant reductions in headache frequency, pain intensity and disability, as well as attack duration.

Lead study author Claudio Pagano, M.D., Ph.D., was also quoted as stating, “If you suffer from migraine headaches and are obese, losing weight will ameliorate the quality of your family and social life as well as your work and school productivity. Your overall quality of life will greatly improve.” He added, “When people lose weight, the number of days per month with migraine decreases, as does pain severity and headache attack duration.”

Interestingly the improvement in migraine suffering was not linked with either degree of obesity at baseline or amount of weight reduction, while how the weight was lost didn’t seem to matter either, whether through bariatric surgery or behavioural intervention. The reduction was also comparable in adults and children.

The authors note mechanisms linking obesity, weight loss and migraine headache remain unclear, but they may include alterations in chronic inflammation, adipocytokines, obesity comorbidities, and behavioural and psychological risk factors.

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