Childhood Ear Infections Lead To Obesity Later In Life

Armen Hareyan's picture

Children suffering from severe ear infections may have damages nerves, which are to control the feeling of taste. Such damage will lead a person eager to eat something sweet and fatty, which can increase the risk of obesity later in life.

The finding comes from four researches presented at American Psychological Association's annual meeting in Boston.

The first study was presented by University of Minnesota, examining children during a two year period from birth up to the age of 2. The children experienced recurring ear infection and were treated with ear tubes. Researchers concluded, that those with damaged middle ear nerve have taste control disturbed and are prone to be overweight and obese later in life.


In the second study researchers from Brown University examined 110 middle-aged women and found that there is a strong link between nerve damage and interest in sweet, fatty food. Researchers interestingly report that the body weight of examined women more depended on their desire to eat something very tasty rather than what they actually ate.

Another research from Brown University examined preschool aged children and found that they eat less fruits and vegetables, eat more sweets and fatty foods.

The third research from U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders examined 13887 children and found that those with removed tonsils are more prone to be overweight. Researchers suppose that this is because taste control nerves may be damaged during tonsillectomy. Children aged from 6 to 11 with removed tonsils were 40% more likely to be obese that those who did not undergo tonsillectomy. Among teenage girls the risk was 30% higher.

The fourth study on the relation of ear infection and obesity comes from a team of researchers from University of Florida College of Dentistry. They examined 6584 women aged from 16 to 92, who were questioned about ear infections they contracted. Researchers concluded that those who suffered ear infections were 62% more likely to be obese.

Researchers noted that the sense of taste comes genetically, but it also can be affected by environmental factors. Ear infections, leading to taste control nerve damage, are one of those factors. It is proved to lead to increased risk of obesity, but it is only one of many factors leading to obesity epidemic.