Can Obese Teens Hear the Message?

Hearing loss risk increased in obese teens as in adults

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Obesity has been linked to a wide range of health issues, even in children and teens. One of those issues may be greater risk for hearing loss.

A recent study found that obese teens appear to have almost twice the risk of normal weight teens for a type of hearing loss.

This hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. Symptoms include having difficulty hearing things in noisy areas or with lots of background noise.

Past studies have already shown that obese adults are at higher risk for this kind of hearing loss.

"Ask your doctor about testing for hearing loss."

The study, led by Anil K. Lalwani, MD, of the Department of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, looked at whether obese children were at risk for hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear, the auditory nerve or part of the brain is damaged.

The researchers examined data from 1,488 participants, aged 12 to 19, who were involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The participants were considered obese if their body mass index (BMI) was in the top 95th percentile for their age.

BMI is the ratio of a person's height to weight. It is used to determine how healthy a person's weight is.

Among the teens who were obese, 15.2 percent had hearing test scores that indicated some sensorineural hearing loss.

Among those with normal weight (in the 5th to 85th percentiles for BMI), 8.3 percent had some sensorineural hearing loss.

After taking into account other factors that might influence hearing loss, the researchers determined that obese teens had almost twice the odds (1.85 times) of having this kind of hearing loss.

The study was published June 17 in the journal The Laryngoscope.

The research did not use external funding. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 24, 2013
Last Updated:
August 1, 2013