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Wonder Why Your Teenager Has Headaches?

Teenagers with unhealthy lifestyles are more than three times as likely to suffer frequent headaches and migraines than those with healthier habits, according to a new study.

Youngsters who are overweight, get little exercise or who smoke, were 3.4 times more likely to have frequent headaches than those with no "negative lifestyle factors".

Of those with all three negative lifestyle factors, more than half – 55 per cent – had frequent headaches, compared to just a quarter of those with healthier behaviours.

Those with two of the three negative factors were 1.8 times more likely to have frequent headaches.

Overweight teenagers were 40 per cent more likely to have frequent headaches than those with no negative factors.

Teens who smoked were 50 per cent more likely to have frequent headaches, and teens who exercised less than twice a week were 20 per cent more likely to have frequent headaches than those who exercised at least twice a week and had no other negative factors.

As part of the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study in Norway, 5,847 students age 13 to 18 were interviewed by nurses about headaches and their weight and height measurements were taken.

They also completed a questionnaire about physical activity and smoking.

Out of the group, 36 per cent of girls and 21 per cent of boys reported having recurrent headaches within the last year.

A total of 16 per cent of the students were overweight, 19 per cent were smokers, and 31 per cent exercised less than twice a week.

The report author Dr John-Anker Zwart, of the University of Oslo, said the study suggests that the treatment and prevention of headaches in teenagers may need to include management of healthy habits such as regular exercise, healthy food choices and stopping smoking.

Commenting on the study Dr Andrew Hershey, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said: "These lifestyle factors have rarely been studied in teens.

"This study is a vital step toward a better understanding of lifestyle factors and potential preventive measures that can be taken."

The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.


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