March 25, 2019
1 min read

Weight loss can relieve migraine disability in obesity

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NEW ORLEANS — Adults and children with obesity and migraine reported reduced migraine frequency, duration, pain intensity and disability after weight loss, according to results of a meta-analysis presented at the Endocrine Society Annual Meeting.

Claudio Pagano

“The association between obesity and migraine is not very clear in terms of prevalence,” Claudio Pagano, MD, PhD, an endocrinologist and associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Padova in Italy, told Endocrine Today. “It’s not so clear [that] if you increase your weight you get high probability of having migraine, but there is a lot of experimental evidence supporting that if you are obese, there is much higher risk of worsening your migraine.”

To assess whether weight loss can ameliorate migraine, Pagano and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies with 473 total participants with obesity (278 adults; 195 children) on effects of weight loss on migraine frequency and severity.

Baseline BMI and amount of weight loss were not associated with migraine parameters, according to researchers. Any weight loss was significantly associated with a decrease in headache frequency (effect size [ES] = –0.65; 95% CI, –0.88 to –0.42), pain intensity (ES = –0.81; 95% CI, –1.19 to –0.44), disability (ES = –0.61; 95% CI, –0.77 to –0.45) and duration (ES = –0.35; 95% CI, –0.62 to –0.08).

“Maybe the most important is the disability score —how much the migraine impacts on your life in terms of your effectiveness in school activity, your job activity or whatsoever,” Pagano said.

Method of weight loss — by bariatric surgery or behavioral programs — and age did not affect results, according to researchers.

How weight affects migraine is not clear, Pagano said.

“The answer cannot come from a meta-analysis, but what we can speculate is that the mechanism underlying obesity complications, such as chronic inflammation, adipocytokines produced by adipose tissue, the comorbidities of obesity such as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, and psychological and behavioral risk factors, can in some way impact the pathophysiological mechanism of migraine as well. Probably, obesity and migraine have a cross-lap of underlying pathogenic mechanisms.” by Jill Rollet


Di Vincenzo A, et al. SAT-108. Presented at: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting; March 23-26, 2019; New Orleans.

Disclosure: Pagano reports no relevant financial disclosures.