Body Size, Physical Activity, and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women

In the United States, it is estimated up to 1/3 of women in their fifties and 2/3 of women in their sixties suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Obesity and other diseases that typically go along with obesity, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), cerebrovascular disease (brain), and dyslipidemia (high cholesterol, high triglycerides) may be related to the development of hearing loss.

In October 2013, there were some very interesting discoveries from a study released in the American Journal of Medicine.

Here is a summary of the significant findings:

  • Higher body mass index (BMI) and larger waist circumference may increase the risk of hearing loss in women.
  • A larger waist circumference is associated with an increased risk of hearing loss.
  • Higher levels of physical activity may reduce the risk of hearing loss in women.
  • Walking 2 hours per week or more may reduce the risk of hearing loss in women.

The link between physical activity, obesity, and hearing loss is potentially due to impaired cochlear function and compromised vascular supply to a section of the ear called the stria vascularis.

Another benefit of exercising regularly and being in good cardiorespiratory fitness is it may enhance resistance to noise-induced auditory damage. Higher cardiorespiratory fitness may be associated with protection against hypertension in the internal auditory artery.

What does this mean to you?

Aim to maintain a healthy weight. As a result of maintaining a healthy weight, you more than likely also maintain a normal waist size and BMI. Good health requires a conscious effort to engage in regular physical activity and choose the right foods most of the time. When deciding which foods to choose, there are numerous nutrients associated with maintaining healthy hearing. Read this blog to learn details about which foods to eat for healthy hearing. Not only are they great for your hearing, but also for your waist line. 

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods



Curhan SG et al. Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, Physical Activity, and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women. Am J of Medicine. 2013; 126, 1142.





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