Migraine and obesity: epidemiology, possible mechanisms and the potential role of weight loss treatment

Obes Rev. 2011 May;12(5):e362-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2010.00791.x.


Migraine and obesity are two public health problems of enormous scope that are responsible for significant quality of life impairment and financial cost. Recent research suggests that these disorders may be directly related with obesity exacerbating migraine in the form of greater headache frequency and severity, or possibly increasing the risk for having migraine. The relationship between migraine and obesity may be explained through a variety of physiological, psychological and behavioural mechanisms, many of which are affected by weight loss. Given that weight loss might be a viable approach for alleviating migraine in obese individuals, randomized controlled trials are needed to test the effect of weight loss interventions in obese migraineurs. Large-scale weight loss trials have shown that behavioural interventions, in particular, can produce sustained weight losses and related cardiovascular improvements in patients who are diverse in body weight, age and ethnicity. Consequently, these interventions may provide a useful treatment model for showing whether weight loss reduces headache frequency and severity in obese migraineurs, and offering further insight into pathways through which weight loss might exert an effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss / physiology*