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May 12, 2005

Extra pounds hazardous to hearing

Overweight or obesity doubles the risk of hearing problems, according to a survey among 245.000 Swedish conscripts.

The survey results were presented at a conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, in December 2004. The survey investigated the correlation between hearing loss and physical development from birth until the age of registering for military service.

"As excessive weight and obesity appear to be significant risk factors in relation to hearing loss we must anticipate an increase in the number of people with early onset hearing loss," explained Marie-Louise Barrenäs, a docent at Sahlgrenska Akademi in Gothenburg, to the Swedish daily newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, referring to one of the consequences of increasing weight problems in the Swedish population.

The researchers found hearing loss to be at least twice as prevalent in three groups of conscripts when compared to their fellow conscripts.

The first risk group included men of low birth weight who went on to be overweight by the time they registered for their service. The second group were of normal weight at birth and overweight when they registered. The third group included men with growth disorders at birth, during puberty and at the age of registration as conscripts.

The researchers pointed out that growth disorders may be difficult to overcome, but that measures against excessive weight and obesity can more easily be taken, thus reducing the risk of hearing problems.

The survey does not support the reverse conclusion that people with hearing loss are generally overweight.

Source: Gøteborgs-Posten,, 26.11.2004

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