Obese adolescents may be at increased risk for hearing loss, according to the results of a study published online on June 17, 2013, in The Laryngoscope
. Following previous research that indicated a connection between hearing loss and obesity in adults, the study used data on 1488 adolescents aged 12 to 19 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005 to 2006, to evaluate the association in children.
The results indicated that obese participants were more likely to experience hearing loss across all frequencies compared with their normal-weight peers. After controlling for other risk factors, the researchers found that the odds of 1-sided low-frequency hearing loss were 1.85 times greater for obese adolescents than for non-obese adolescents.
The study’s results add to the growing list of health concerns related to obesity. Many of the obese adolescents who participated in the study were unaware of their hearing loss, and the researchers recommend that future research focus on how obesity-related hearing loss affects behavior. Given the high prevalence of obesity and the many health problems it can contribute to, the researchers conclude that more public health measures are needed to address the obesity epidemic.