People who have the occasional migraine are more likely to suffer from obesity, compared with those who do not have migraines, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.
Previous studies have demonstrated a link between people with chronic migraines and obesity, the researchers say. But they add that the research has been conflicting on whether the link is relevant to people who have less frequent migraine attacks.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, conducted a study of 3,862 people whose average age was 47.
All participants were required to complete surveys disclosing information on their height, weight and migraine regularity.
Of the participants, 1,044 were obese, while 188 suffered from occasional or episodic migraines - defined as having fewer than 14 migraines every month.
Results of the analysis showed that participants who were obese were 81% more likely to have episodic migraine of any frequency, compared with people of normal weight.
The research also showed that those under the age of 50 who were obese were 86% more likely to suffer from episodic migraine, and this risk did not increase in those over the age of 50.
Additionally, the risk of episodic migraine increased in women who were obese but not men.
The researchers say that while this may indicate that the link between migraine and obesity is absent in men, it more likely suggests that the relationship between obesity and migraine is stronger in women. They add that further research is needed to determine if this is the case.
The study authors say:
"Our findings indicate that the risk of episodic migraine (of all frequencies) is increased in those with obesity, with the strongest association among those younger than 50 years, those who are white, and women."
Lee Peterlin, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and study author, says that as obesity is a risk factor that can potentially be modified, and since some medications for migraines can lead to weight gain or loss, this is important information for people with migraines and their doctors.
"These results suggest that doctors should promote healthy lifestyle choices for diet and exercise in people with episodic migraine," he adds.
The study authors conclude that further research is needed to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of weight-loss programs in those who are obese and suffer from episodic migraines.
Medical News Today recently reported that scientists have discovered migraines may affect the long-term structure of the brain and increase the risk of brain lesions.