An interesting new study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and published in The American Journal of Medicine finds a correlation between higher body mass index (BMI) and hearing loss in women. On the flip side, women who remain active did not have as high a rate of hearing loss.

Using data from 68,421 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II who were followed from 1989 to 2009, researchers analyzed information on BMI, waist circumference, physical activity, and self-reported hearing loss. The baseline and updated information was obtained through validated biennial questionnaires. Researchers found that women with a BMI of 30-34 had a relative risk for hearing loss that was 17% higher, and with a BMI of 40 or more had a relative risk that was 25% higher, when compared with those with a BMI of less than 25.

While hearing loss is often considered a natural effect of aging on the human body, studies like these can shed new light on the situation for those suffering from hearing loss. There are already a number of accepted practices for individuals to avoid hearing loss as they age and it may be necessary to add “maintain a healthy weight and activity level” to the list.

In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of hearing loss:

  • Remove wax properly from your ears
  • Avoid excessive noise
  • Wear proper ear protection
  • Quit smoking

While these risk factors are related to exposure or lifestyle choices that can lead to hearing loss, this new research suggests that obesity can also contribute to this condition.

Here are some tips for safely losing weight to manage your own risk:

  • Eat a balanced meal based on the current MyPlate guidelines
  • Add activity and exercise into your daily life
  • Don’t skip meals to avoid calories
  • Talk to your doctor about additional options

Have you experienced hearing loss that might be attributed to obesity?

Image by Sue Clark via Flickr


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