The side effects from obesity in children can create more havoc than people realize. In a recent study conducted by Columbia University Medical Center, 1,500 adolescents were analyzed aged 12-19. The obese adolescents had a greater hearing loss across all frequencies than their normal weight peers and were nearly twice as likely to have one-sided low frequency hearing loss. Dr. Stefanie Wolf, Au.D. commented on this study theorizing that “obesity caused inflammation may be the culprit.” Wolf also comments that “obesity impairs our health, how we feel, our blood pressure levels, and how our bodies work, so it is obvious that hearing would be directly effected.” Below Dr. Wolf shares more of her theories when it comes to childhood obesity and how it can be avoided.
NYFE: Why do you think so many children are obese?
Dr. Wolf: I think children are obese from a combination of lack of exercise and eating the wrong foods. Fast food and junk food are so easily available and appeal to children because of marketing and the taste appeal of high sodium/ high sugar foods. This, combined with advances in video game technology and connectivity allows children to play, and even socialize without moving their bodies.
NYFE: What are a few ways parents can begin if they haven’t already educating their children about the dangers of obesity?
Dr. Wolf: Parents should emphasize the importance of making healthy choices that result in healthier bodies and brains for children. Parents can emphasize that food is the fuel for the body, fuel the body with certain high sugar high fat foods and the body will be sluggish, fuel it with healthy choices.
NYFE: Do you find that most obese children have obese parents? What steps can parents take towards creating a healthy lifestyle for everyone within the home?
Dr. Wolf: Many children who are obese do seem to have obese parents. In this situation it is likely that the parents are not modeling healthy, balanced eating behaviors. Children are always observing and always learning from the actions of their parents.
NYFE: Heart disease is one of the number one killers of African Americans, what tips do you have for increasing awareness within various communities? How can anyone help spread the importance of heart health?
Dr. Wolf: Community centers and places of worship in high risk communities should arrange for health seminars to educate their communities. Inviting cardiologists and nutritionists to speak to an engaged group can be a powerful first step in educating particular communities. Knowledge is power!
In addition to obesity being linked to cardiovascular disease, it has also been associated with an increased risk of hearing loss in both adolescents and adults. One recent study published in The Laryngoscope demonstrated that the risk of one-sided low-frequency hearing loss is almost double in obese teens when compared to teens of normal weight. A similar study from the American Journal of Medicine found that the risk of hearing loss in women decreases as their physical activity increases. The link between body weight and hearing loss is suggested to result from an increase in inflammation caused by obesity.
Stefanie Wolf, Au.D.
For more information on childhood obesity watch the documentary by Lisa-Charisse Blanco called Tipping the Scales- A Documentary on Childhood Obesity.
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