26 November 2019

Being obese increases the risk of hearing loss

A large-scale Japanese study finds a relationship between obesity and hearing loss.

A study carried out in Japan has found that the increased risk for hearing loss at 1 kHz is 21% for those with a BMI between 25.0-29.9 and 66% for those with a BMI of 30.0 or more compared to individuals with a BMI under 25.0. For hearing loss at 4 kHz, the increased risk in the study was 14% and 29% compared with metabolically healthy, non-obese individuals.

The increased risk for hearing loss at 1 kHz was 19% for unhealthy, non-obese people, 27% for healthy obese and 48% for unhealthy, obese individuals. For hearing loss at 4 kHz, the increased risk was 13% for unhealthy, non-obese people, 21% for healthy obese and 26% for unhealthy obese.

Men of working age

The study among a large-scale Japanese working population included 48,549 employees aged 20 to 64 years with no hearing loss at the beginning of the study. 85% of the participants were men. Pure-tone audiometric testing was performed annually to identify hearing loss at 1 and 4 kHz.

In the study, with a median follow-up of 7 years, 1,595 and 3,625 individuals developed unilateral hearing loss at 1 and 4 kHz respectively.

Earlier studies

Earlier studies have also found a relationship between obesity and hearing loss.

A Turkish study on the association between hearing loss and obesity among women aged 18-40 years demonstrates that obesity may affect hearing function. In particular, the ability to hear high frequencies seems to be negatively connected to obesity.

An American study found that being obese as a teenager makes you almost twice as likely to develop a low-frequency hearing loss, according to a study from Columbia University's Medical Center.

Also, if you have Metabolic Syndrome, you are at higher risk of hearing loss. This connection between Metabolic Syndrome and hearing loss is found in an Iranian study.

The study "Obesity and risk of hearing loss: A prospective cohort study" was published in Clinical Nutrition in 2019

Source: Clinical Nutrition and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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