Obesity May Affect Hearing

Published Online: Monday, March 17, 2014
A recent study found that women with higher body mass indexes (BMIs) and larger waist circumferences may be at an increased risk for hearing loss.

The researchers of the study analyzed relationships between BMI, waist size, physical activity, and self-reported hearing loss in 68,421 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II from 1989 to 2009. Their findings were published in the December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

After more than 1.1 million person-years of follow-up, 11,286 cases of hearing loss were reported. Both BMI and waist circumference were related to hearing loss risk. Women with a BMI of 40 or greater were 25% more likely to experience hearing loss than women with a BMI less than 25. Compared with those with waists measuring less than 28 inches, women with waists larger than 34 inches were at a 27% increased risk for hearing loss. The results also indicated that physical activity decreased the risk for hearing loss. Women who walked at least 2 hours a week were about 15% less likely to report hearing problems than less active women.

“These findings provide evidence that maintaining healthy weight and staying physically active, potentially modifiable lifestyle factors, may help reduce the risk of hearing loss,” concluded the authors of the study.

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