Kids + Chronic Ear Infections = Childhood Obesity?

The results of a study, conducted by Dr. Il Ho Shin of Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea has shown that children with a history of a certain type of chronic ear infections with fluid may cause alterations in children’s taste buds. In a taste test, conducted with 84 children between the ages of three and seven (half with chronic middle ear infections half without) researchers concluded that those with chronic ear infections have less sensitive taste buds and tend to eat more than children who have relatively few problems with their ears. Earlier studies seem to support this theory.

According to the results of a 2006 study, conducted by taste and hearing experts at the University of Florida College of Dentistry in Gainesville, the damage caused by chronic ear infections to a vital nerve, which travels through the middle ear to carry taste signals to the brain, may be a contributing cause for a child’s increased cravings for sweeter, richer foods. With an impaired ability to taste “sweet”, the urge to experience that taste remains unsatisfied, making them increasingly prone to eat more and gain more weight.

Studies also suggest that 70% of adults who had chronic ear infections as a child were more likely to become obese.

The study was published in the March 2011 issue of Archives of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery.

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