Belly Fat may be Making Your Migraines Worse

Results of a new investigation suggest belly fat might make migraine headaches worse. The result of a large study shows a link between excess abdominal fat, and frequency of migraine headaches.

The  findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

Researchers investigated 22,211 people between age 20 and 55, who were asked to report whether they experience severe headaches or migraines. They measured total body obesity and waist circumference, using BMI based on weight and height.

The study found that women with belly fat, age 20 to 55 are more prone to migraine headaches compared to women with smaller waistlines. The incidence of migraines was 37% and 29% respectively. But women over age 55 had a decreased risk of migraine headache associated with belly fat.

Men in the study group with belly fat had 20 percent more migraines, compared to 16 percent of men without abdominal obesity.

The study showed that women experience worsening migraines from excess abdominal fat than men, revealing gender and age differences. The way fat is concentrated in the belly is a more likely predictor of migraine headache than BMI.

According to study author B. Lee Peterlin, DO, of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA:

“These results, while still in the early stages, suggest that losing weight in the stomach area may be beneficial for younger people who experience migraine and especially so for women. Men and women have body tissue distributed in different ways. After puberty, women show more fatty tissue deposits in the hip and thigh area while men predominantly have more fatty tissue in the belly region. After menopause, women show more fatty tissue in the belly area as well. For some diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, excess fat around the waistline appears to be a stronger risk factor than total body obesity.”

Recent recommendations to keep belly fat at bay include eating a diet high in monosaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) to replace unhealthy fat in the diet from vegetable oils.

A combination of exercise, monounsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet could help prevent excess belly fat that can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and according to new research, increase risk of migraine headache.


You can find a complete review of foods rich in MUFA’s and Omega 3’s here.