Background: Several studies have assessed the associations between migraine and underweight, pre-obesity or obesity, with conflicting results. To assess the consistency of the data on the topic, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available observational studies.
Methods: Multiple electronic databases were systematically searched up to October 2014 for studies assessing the association between migraine and body mass index categories (underweight, pre-obesity, or obesity).
Results: Out of 2,022 records, we included 15 studies. When considering the 11 studies following the World Health Organization BMI cutoffs, we found an increased risk of having migraine in underweight subjects (pooled adjusted effect estimate [PAEE] 1.21; 95% CI, 1.07-1.37; P = 0.002) and in obese women (PAEE 1.44; 95% CI, 1.05-1.97; P = 0.023) as compared with normal weight subjects; additionally, pre-obese subjects had an increased risk of having chronic migraine (PAEE 1.39; 95% CI, 1.13-1.71; P = 0.002). When considering all the 15 studies, we additionally found an increased risk of having migraine in obese as compared with normal weight subjects (PAEE 1.14; 95% CI, 1.02-1.27; P = 0.017); additionally, obese subjects had an increased risk of having chronic migraine (PAEE 1.75; 95% CI, 1.33-2.29; P < 0.001). The pooled analysis did not indicate an increased risk of having migraine in pre-obese subjects.
Conclusions: The meta-analysis of the available observational studies suggested an association between migraine and obesity likely mediated by gender and migraine frequency. Further studies taking into account gender, migraine type, frequency, activity, and duration could provide more robust evidence.