Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention for Migraine: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Dale S. Bond, J. Graham Thomas, Richard B. Lipton, Julie Roth, Jelena M. Pavlovic, Lucille Rathier, Kevin C. O'Leary, E. Whitney Evans, Rena R. Wing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to test whether behavioral weight loss (BWL) intervention decreases headaches in women with comorbid migraine and overweight or obesity. Methods: This randomized, single-blind trial allocated women 18 to 50 years old with 4 to 20 migraine days per month and a BMI = 25.0-49.9 kg/m2 to 16 weeks of BWL (n = 54), which targeted exercise and eating behaviors for weight loss, or to migraine education control (ME, n = 56), which delivered didactic instruction on migraine and treatments. Participants completed a 4-week smartphone headache diary at baseline, posttreatment (16-20 wk), and follow-up (32-36 wk). The primary outcome was posttreatment change in migraine days per month, analyzed via linear mixed effects models. Results: Of 110 participants randomly assigned, 85 (78%) and 80 (73%) completed posttreatment and follow-up. Although the BWL group achieved greater weight loss (mean [95% CI] in kilograms) than the ME group at posttreatment (−3.8 [−2.5 to −5.0] vs. + 0.9 [−0.4 to 2.2], P < 0.001) and follow-up (−3.2 [−2.0 to −4.5] vs. + 1.1 [−0.2 to 2.4], P < 0.001), there were no significant group (BWL vs. ME) differences (mean [95% CI]) in migraine days per month at posttreatment (−3.0 [−2.0 to −4.0] vs. −4.0 [−2.9 to −5.0], P = 0.185) or follow-up (−3.8 [−2.7 to −4.8] vs. −4.4 [−3.4 to −5.5], P = 0.378). Conclusions: Contrary to hypotheses, BWL and ME yielded similar, sustained reductions in migraine headaches. Future research should evaluate whether adding BWL to standard pharmacological and/or nonpharmacological migraine treatment approaches yields greater benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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