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Neurology. 2010 Aug 24;75(8):712-7. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181eee244. Epub 2010 Aug 18.

An unfavorable lifestyle and recurrent headaches among adolescents: the HUNT study.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.



To examine the relationship between recurrent headache disorders (i.e., migraine and tension-type headache) and lifestyle factors (overweight, low physical activity, and smoking) in an unselected population study among adolescents.


In this cross-sectional study from Norway, a total of 5,847 students were interviewed about headache complaints and completed a comprehensive questionnaire including items concerning physical activity and smoking. In addition, they underwent a clinical examination with height and weight measurements. Adolescents with high physical activity who were not current smokers and not overweight were classified as having a good lifestyle status. These students were compared to those with 1 or more of the negative lifestyle factors present in regard to headache diagnosis and headache frequency.


In adjusted multivariate analyses, recurrent headache was associated with overweight (odds ratio [OR] = 1.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-1.6, p < 0.0001), low physical activity (OR = 1.2, 95% CI 1.1-1.4, p = 0.002), and smoking (OR = 1.5, 95% CI 1.3-1.7, p < 0.0001). The prevalence of OR increased with more than 1 negative lifestyle factor present, evident for headache diagnoses and frequency.


The results from the present study show that overweight, smoking, or low physical activity are independently and in combination associated with recurrent headache among adolescents. The associations observed and the additive effect of these negative lifestyle factors on the prevalence of recurrent headache indicates possible targets for preventive measures.

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