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.
The results of the study revealed that 15.16% of obese adolescents, obese being defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of over 95 percentile, experienced sensorineural hearing loss. In comparison, only 7.89% of non-obese teens suffered from a hearing loss.
"This is the first paper to show that obesity is associated with hearing loss in adolescents," said lead author of the study Anil K. Lalwani, M.D., professor and vice-chair for research at Colombia University's Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery.
Regular hearing screenings needed
Since this study has shown how early injury to the inner ear could lead to a loss of hearing as the obese adolescent becomes an obese adult, Lalwani suggests hearing screenings for obese adolescents on a regular basis.
"Because previous research found that 80% of adolescents with hearing loss were unaware of having hearing difficulty, adolescents with obesity should receive regular hearing screening so they can be treated appropriately to avoid cognitive and behavioural issues," he implied.
About the study
Lalwani and his colleagues analysed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention back in 2005 and 2006.
This study included 1,500 adolescents aged 12-19, who answered questions regarding personal and family medical history, any medications they were taking, if they or anyone they knew smoked, socioeconomic factors and history of noise exposure.