Migraine, weight gain and the risk of becoming overweight and obese: a prospective cohort study

Cephalalgia. 2012 Oct;32(13):963-71. doi: 10.1177/0333102412455708. Epub 2012 Aug 8.


Background: Some cross-sectional studies have suggested an association between migraine and increased body weight. However, prospective data on the association are lacking.

Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study among 19,162 participants in the Women's Health Study who had a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5- <25 kg/m(2) at baseline. Migraine was self-reported by standardized questionnaires. Main outcome measures were incident overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m(2)), incident obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2)) and mean weight change. Age- and multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated for the association between migraine and incident overweight and obesity. Differences in weight change were evaluated by analysis of covariance (ANCOVA).

Results: A total of 3,483 (18.2%) women reported any migraine history. After 12.9 years of follow-up, 7916 incident overweight and 730 incident obesity cases occurred. Migraineurs had multivariable-adjusted HRs (95% confidence interval) of 1.11 (1.05-1.17) for becoming overweight and 1.00 (0.83-1.19) for becoming obese. These associations remained stable after censoring for chronic diseases and were similar according to migraine aura status. Multivariable-adjusted mean weight change from baseline to the end of study was +4.7 kg for migraineurs and +4.4 kg for women without migraine (p = 0.02).

Conclusion: Results of this large prospective study of middle-aged women do not indicate a consistent association between migraine and incident overweight, obesity or relevant weight gain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Gain*