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May 26th, 2014 | General | by Andreas Seelisch

Obesity Linked to Hearing Loss

Obesity continues to be a major concern in the health of the world’s population. Its effects have led to increased demands on health care systems and a decreased quality of life for many.

Obesity has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and numerous metabolic issues that have long-lasting effects. Recent studies now indicate that obesity, if left unaddressed, can increase the risk for future hearing loss.

These findings are helping redefine the role of hearing loss in the aging process. Rather than being a natural result of aging, it can be influenced by lifestyle factors that support weight management such as diet and exercise.

What Researchers Discovered

When researchers examined the link between obesity and hearing loss, they found clear associations between the body mass index (BMI) and the prevalence of hearing loss.

Those individuals who had a body mass index of 40 and above, demonstrated an increased risk of approximately 25%. More importantly, physical activity was shown to also lower that risk, further supporting the value of regular exercise.

The significance of these findings lies in the suggestion that hearing loss can be regulated through healthy lifestyle habits. Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight will help lower the risk and slow down its natural progression.

Additional Support

Other studies have found similar findings. The Laryngoscope, a journal focused on diagnosis and treatment of head and neck disorders, published a study involving obese teenagers.

What the study found was that obesity in this population increased the risk of one-sided low-frequency loss of hearing by almost double, relative to teens of normal body weight.

The study also suggested that inflammation resulting from obesity could be a potential factor in the findings. Type 1 diabetes and heart disease, as linked to obesity, were also considered as possible contributors.

Support for Prevention

The most important consideration resulting from these findings is the preventive considerations. These studies help build a case for an increase in health-supporting habits such as exercise and diet.

Simple and consistent modifications can lead to significant reduction in the risk of hearing loss. Researchers found that walking for just a couple of hours a week helped reduce the risk by 15 percent in comparison to walking less than one hour.

The participants who were the most active showed a 17 percent decrease in hearing loss risk as well.

Hearing loss has long been considered a natural part of growing older. These studies now indicate that this no longer has to be the case. Through proper weight management and health-promoting habits such as exercise, the risk of hearing loss can be reduced.

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