Blue popsicles, fruit snacks and pepperoni pizza may be rites of childhood … but they may not be great for long-term hearing. Poor nutrition in childhood can lead to an increased risk for developing health conditions – including hearing loss, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers found that young adults who suffered from poor nutrition in early childhood were twice as likely to suffer hearing loss than their better-fed peers.
Researchers looked at the relationship between nutrition and hearing of 2,200 young adults in Nepal. They found that those who were too short or too thin for their age were twice as likely to show signs of hearing loss. The link from nutrition to hearing could occur a couple of ways. In the case of stunted growth, researchers suspect poor nutrition impedes inner ear development beginning in the womb. Being underweight, on the other hand, raises the risk for developing chronic ear infections.
“Our findings should help elevate hearing loss as a still-neglected public health burden, and one that nutrition interventions in early childhood might help prevent,” Keith West Jr., principal investigator of the study said.
In the United States, poor nutrition early in life is often a result of food insecurity, or the inability of a family to afford enough food for all its members, said West. Just over 12 percent of American households were food insecure in 2016. Poor nutrition can also be a result of choice. Empty calories from added sugars and fats account for 40 percent of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2-18 years of age, according to Centers for Disease Control. Most youth in the U.S. do not meet daily fruit and vegetable recommendations or drink the recommended amount of water.
Modeling good health habits for your family can help your children and grandchildren develop healthy habits of their own and stave off hearing loss due to poor nutrition. Eat a balanced diet, get the proper amount of exercise, protect your hearing from exposure to loud or excessive noise, and schedule regular checkups with one of our hearing professional.
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