Abstract

Background: With the aging population, the prevalence of age-related hearing loss will increase substantially. Prevention requires more knowledge on modifiable risk factors. Obesity and diet quality have been suggested to play a role in the etiology of age-related hearing loss. We aimed to investigate independent associations of body composition and diet quality with age-related hearing loss.

Methods: We performed cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses (follow-up: 4.4 years) in the population-based Rotterdam Study. At baseline (2006-2014), 2,906 participants underwent assessment of body composition, diet, and hearing. Of these 2,906 participants, 636 had hearing assessment at follow-up (2014-2016). Association of body composition and of diet quality with hearing loss were examined using multivariable linear regression models.

Results: Cross-sectionally, higher body mass index and fat mass index were associated with increased hearing thresholds. These associations did not remain statistically significant at follow-up. We found no associations between overall diet quality and hearing thresholds.

Conclusions: This study shows that a higher body mass index, and in particular a higher fat mass index, is related to age-related hearing loss. However, whether maintaining a healthy body composition may actually reduce the effects of age-related hearing loss in the aging population requires further longitudinal population-based research.