gms | German Medical Science

MAINZ//2011: 56. GMDS-Jahrestagung und 6. DGEpi-Jahrestagung

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie e. V.

26. - 29.09.2011 in Mainz

The Role of Overweight on Headache, Migraine and Chronic Pain in Children and Adolescents

Meeting Abstract

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  • Hannelore Neuhauser - Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin
  • Ute Ellert - Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin
  • Tobias Kurth - INSERM Unit 708-Neuroepidemiology, Paris

Mainz//2011. 56. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 6. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie (DGEpi). Mainz, 26.-29.09.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11gmds308

doi: 10.3205/11gmds308, urn:nbn:de:0183-11gmds3088

Published: September 20, 2011

© 2011 Neuhauser et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background and Aims: Migraine and headache features have been linked with overweight/obesity, specifically among women. Data among children/adolescence are sparse. We aimed to examine the association between obesity and various pain conditions in a population-based sample of children and adolescents aged 3-17 years.

Methods: Nationally representative health examination survey among 14,879 children and adolescences with standardized overweight measurement, comprehensive pain questionnaire and self-reported physician-diagnosed migraine. Overweight was defined as BMI >90th percentile.

Results: 3,406 had recurrent headache, 425 migraine, and 6,845 recurrent all-cause pain. The association between overweight and overall and specific pain conditions differed by gender and age. Among 3-13 years-old children, overweight was not associated with any pain condition, independent of gender. Among adolescence (14-17 year), we found significant associations of overweight with any of our pain outcomes for girls but not boys (p interactions all <0.01). Girls who were overweight had age-adjusted increased odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 1.57 (1.20-2.04) for all-cause pain, 1.70 (1.35-2.14) for recurrent headache, and 1.73 (1.17-2.56) for migraine. Adjustment for exercise made little difference. In further analyses of a smaller subsample with information on pain frequency, overweight was associated with pain chronicity (>several days/week), with OR ranging from 1.33 (1.16-1.53) for all-cause pain to 2.61 (1.15-5.87) for migraine.

Conclusions: Results of this large, population-based sample of children and adolescence suggest that overweight not only relates to migraine but also to other pain conditions and that the association is limited to adolescence girls. We confirm associations between overweight and pain chronicity, which may start early in life.