Extra Body Fat Can Make Your Head Ache!

Recent scientific research has uncovered a new reason to shed excess pounds—besides wanting to lose your “love handles” or fit into your “skinny jeans”. The study concluded that being overweight or obese may increase your likelihood of having severe headaches and migraines!

According to a Reuter’s Health report, Earl S. Ford, M.D., and colleagues at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta analyzed 7,601 adult men and women. The researchers examined the link between body mass index (BMI) and headache prevalence. BMI is the ratio between height and weight used to determine the weight range you fall into.

Participants included men and women, 20 years of age or older, who participated in the 1999 to 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. About 35 percent of the study group had a BMI between 25 and 30—numbers considered to be overweight. Another 30 percent were obese—with a BMI over 30—and 33 percent were in the normal weight range with a BMI between 18.5 and 25.

During the course of the study, about 15 percent of the men and 28 percent of the women reported they had severe headaches or migraines during the previous three months. They found that being overweight or obese upped the likelihood of headaches by 1.2 to nearly 1.4 times.

The group of participants in the lower BMI range represented about 2 percent of the study population. Ford’s group noted a two-fold higher prevalence of headache among the underweight participants. But their limited number prevented researchers from conducting further analysis.

After adjusting for other factors—such as gender, ethnicity, smoking, diabetes and cholesterol levels—the overweight and obese subjects still had a greater headache frequency than normal-weight participants.

The researchers recommend further analyses to establish “whether obesity is casually related to the development of headaches. If obesity increases the risk for headaches, weight management might be a useful approach in headache management,” Ford and colleagues suggest.

The study findings were reported in the medical journal Cephalalgia.