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    Obesity is a risk factor for hearing loss



    According to a new study in The American Journal of Medicine, obesity can increase risk of hearing loss, and the risk increases with body mass index (BMI).

    Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at independent associations between waist circumference, physical activity, BMI, and self-reported hearing loss by studying 68,421 women in Nurses’ Health Study II. From 1989 to 2009, physical activity levels, BMI, and waist circumference were recorded on the biennial questionnaires.

    After follow-up, which totaled more than 1.1 million person-years, 11,286 cases of hearing loss were reported in the cohort and higher BMI and larger waist circumference were tied to an increased risk of hearing loss. Compared with women with BMI <25, those with BMI ≥40 had a multivariate-adjusted relative risk (RR) of hearing loss of 1.25 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14-1.37). An RR of 1.27 (95% CI, 1.17-1.38) was reported for a waist circumference of >88 cm versus <71 cm.

    Conversely, higher physical activity was inversely related to risk. Compared to women in the lowest quintile of physical activity, women in the highest quintile had a RR of 0.83 (95% CI, 0.78-0.88). Simultaneously adjusting for BMI, waist circumference, and physical activity attenuated the associations, but the associations still remained statistically significant.

    The investigators concluded that a high BMI and large waist circumference carry an increased risk of hearing loss. Their findings indicate that physical activity, such as 2 or more hours per week of walking, can reduce this risk. 



    To get weekly advice for today's Ob/Gyn, subscribe to the Contemporary Ob/Gyn Special Delivery.

    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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