Overweight, obese people more prone to headaches

By Tom Nordlie • Published: April 9th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Everybody knows excess body fat raises your risk of heart disease.

But it can also increase your chances of suffering serious headaches.

That’s the conclusion of a study published in the journal Cephalalgia [seff-uh-LALL-juh].

Researchers analyzed data from seventy-six-hundred men and women ages twenty and up who were enrolled in a nationwide health study.

The participants provided demographic and lifestyle information, and their body mass index was calculated.

They were asked whether they’d had any severe headaches or migraines in the past three months.

After researchers adjusted for factors such as age, marital status and use of alcohol and tobacco, they found that overweight women were about fifteen percent more likely to be headache sufferers than those with healthy body weight.

For obese women, the increased risk was almost thirty percent.

For men, the difference was even more noticeable.

Being overweight raised the odds of headaches by twenty-five percent. Obesity raised them by almost fifty percent.

A few factors didn’t make any difference, including ethnicity, physical activity and cholesterol levels.

Several theories have been suggested to explain the connection between body mass and headaches. Extra pounds can lead to increased blood levels of fatty acids and chemicals that promote inflammation.

But more research is needed to clarify what triggers the headaches.

Regardless, this study provides one more argument for getting in shape and staying there.

Doctors say a bulging belly isn’t good for you. Throw in throbbing temples and you’ve got a one-two paunch punch you’d be much better off without.