May 30, 2024

Weight Matters: The Link Between BMI and Hearing

Weight Matters: The Link Between BMI and Hearing Blog Graphic

Obesity has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. In addition to these well-known health hazards, research shows that overweight and obese individuals have an increased risk of developing hearing loss.1

What’s the Connection?

To hear optimally, the tiny hair cells in your inner ear that help you hear require a steady flow of blood and oxygen. Obesity forces the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body, putting a strain on the capillary walls and making it difficult for them to deliver oxygen effectively. Without these precious resources, permanent damage to the hair cells may occur, leading to hearing loss.

In addition, excess weight contributes to many of the diseases mentioned above, all of which can contribute to hearing loss. Heart disease limits circulation, leading to poor blood and oxygen flow; high blood pressure damages artery walls, causing plaque buildup and diminished blood flow; and diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels supplying the inner ear. While obesity itself might not directly cause hearing loss, it’s associated with several serious health conditions that do.

What Should I Do?

Getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way toward reducing your risk of hearing loss. One study showed a 17% reduction in hearing loss in physically active women, concluding that a higher body mass index (BMI) and larger waist circumference are associated with a higher risk of hearing loss, while greater physical activity is associated with a lower risk.2

Think you may have hearing loss? Call Fort HealthCare Audiology at 920.563.6667 in Fort Atkinson or 262.473.8920 in Whitewater to explore your options and schedule a hearing evaluation or complimentary hearing screening.

1 Hu, H. et al. (2020). Obesity and risk of hearing loss: A prospective cohort study. Clinical Nutrition.
2 Curhan, S., Eavey, R., Wang, M., Stampfer, M., & Curhan, G. (2013). Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, Physical Activity, and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women. The American Journal of Medicine, 126(12), 1142.e1-1142.e8. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.04.026