Hearing loss a new threat for obese adolescents, study finds
Childhood obesity is on the rise and with it comes a host of health threats including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now, new research finds that obese adolescents could also be at risk for hearing loss. The results of a new study found that obese teens had increased hearing loss and were nearly two times as likely to have low-frequency hearing deficiencies in at least one ear compared to their normal weight peers. The study was published in the journal The Laryngoscope.
Researchers evaluated national survey data from almost 1,500 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19. Factors such as noise-exposure history, current medical conditions, medication use and other factors were taken into account.
“This is the first paper to show that obesity is associated with hearing loss in adolescents,” said study author Anil K. Lalwani, MD, of the Department of Otolaryngology at Columbia University Medical Center in a news release.
Researchers speculate that obesity-induced inflammation may contribute to hearing loss. They noted that low-frequency hearing loss is particularly troubling and could damage the inner ear and get worse with age. The loss could adversely affect “social development, academic performance, and behavioral and cognitive function.”
The CDC reports that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2010.
Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height. Obesity is defined as having 20 percent or more of excess body fat beyond an ideal body weight.
Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, a primary care physician, board-certified in obesity medicine with Advocate Medical Group, says the fight against childhood obesity is an uphill battle but can be won. Parents play a key role, she says.
“The entire family needs to be engaged in the dietary changes that are essential to treating the child who is overweight or obese,” she says. “Everyone in the house needs make every effort to limit fast food, increase exercise and place a high value on healthy eating.”
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