Woman holding head with a headache

How Excess Weight Impacts Migraine Headaches

Research continues to show that excess weight impacts migraine headaches. 

The World Health Organization lists migraine as one of the 10 most disabling medical illnesses on earth. For more than 90% of those affected, migraine interferes with education, career or social activities.  

According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine impacts over 37 million men, women and children in the United States. More than 30% of women experience migraines in their lifetime. Migraine headaches are three times more common in women than men.  

Anyone who struggles with migraine headaches probably is aware of potential triggers. These can be hormonal changes, certain foods and drinks, and stress. Another link to the intense, debilitating life-disrupting headaches is obesity. 

Why Excess Weight Impacts Migraine Headaches 

While studies do not indicate that obesity causes migraine headaches, excess weight impacts migraine headache prevalence and attack frequency.  

Studies have shown that fat tissue secretes molecules to other body parts and systems. With obesity, the extra fat cells cause the body to make inflammatory proteins and keep the body in a constant state of inflammation.  

The American Migraine Foundation also notes that the risk of chronic migraine increases with weight gain. A chronic migraine is defined as at least 15 headache days per month for more than three months.  

Losing Excess Weight Impacts Migraine Headaches 

However, losing weight has been shown to decrease the frequency, severity and duration of migraine.  

A study in 2011 addressed the impact of weight loss surgery on obese patients with migraine headaches. Of 51 patients in the study who developed migraines after they became obese, 41 reported no longer having them six months after surgery and seven said their headaches diminished. The more weight patients lost, the greater the improvement in their headache symptoms.  

“Weight loss reduces the impact of conditions associated with obesity, including diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke and respiratory diseases,” said lead study author Claudio Pagano, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Padova in Padova, Italy. “Obesity and migraine are common in industrialized countries. Improving quality of life and disability for these patients will greatly impact these populations and reduce direct and indirect healthcare costs.”  

Whether weight loss is achieved through diet and exercise or weight loss surgery, which may be the best choice for people who have genetic and hormonal traits that make dieting or exercise less effective, the result is the same – overall better health.  

Surgical Healing Arts Can Help 

Interested in finding out how weight loss can improve health issues like migraine headaches? Find out how Surgical Healing Arts can help you meet your weight loss goals at a free seminar