Lifestyle Choices Affect Headache Frequency in Teens

Overweight, inactivity, smoking increase odds of recurrent headache
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Low physical activity, smoking, and being overweight all significantly increase the odds of recurrent headache in adolescents, according to research published online Aug. 18 in Neurology.

L. Robberstad, of the University of Oslo in Norway, and colleagues conducted a study of 5,847 adolescents, aged 13 to 18 years, to examine the separate and combined effects of low physical activity, smoking, and being overweight on the frequency of three types of headache. Adolescents with none of these behaviors were classified as having a good lifestyle status; the prevalence of a headache diagnosis (either migraine, tension-type, or unclassifiable headache) as well as headache frequency in the students with this status were compared to that of students with one or more of the negative lifestyle factors.

The researchers found that all three negative lifestyle factors were individually and significantly associated with recurrent headache (odds ratios of 1.4, 1.2, and 1.5 for overweight, low physical activity, and smoking, respectively). An additive effect on the prevalence of recurrent headache was seen with more than one negative lifestyle factor. The authors concluded that these lifestyle factors should be considered as possible targets for headache prevention.

"This report is an important step in clarifying the effects of lifestyle factors on headache," write the authors of an accompanying editorial. "Managing these negative factors by making positive lifestyle changes plays an important role in the biobehavioral treatment of headache disorders in adolescents."

One of the authors disclosed financial ties to multiple pharmaceutical companies.

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