Ear Infections Latest Cause of Childhood Obesity, New Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Health

ear infection

Ear infections damage the nerves that conduct the "wow-this-is-yummy" signals to the brain. Credit: Getty Images

Get out those No. 2 pencils. Today's multiple-choice question: Why was your kid voted Most Likely To Be Mistaken for a Balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Is childhood obesity the result of:

A. Lack of sleep?

B. Mothers who work too much?

C. Mothers who drink too much?

D. Babies drinking formula?

E. Babies not drinking enough formula?

F. None of the above

If you answered none of the above, good for you. Everyone knows the answer is (drum roll, please) ear infections. You heard right (unless you have an ear infection). Kids with chronic ear infections have less sensitive taste buds than their peers and are more likely to resemble Buicks.

MSNBC reports that Korean researchers have finally solved the mystery of childhood obesity. All those other things could play a factor, but certainly ear infections make a lot more sense than taking our frustrations out on defenseless McNuggets.

Actually, this is not the first time scientists have found the mystic cord between the ear and the stomach. Yet, as MSNBC reports, no one quite knows how the magic trick works.

It could be that ear infections damage the nerves that conduct "wow-this-is-yummy" signals to the brain, causing kids to eat more.

Il Ho Shin of Kyung Hee University in Seoul and his fellow researchers set out to get to the bottom of all this. MSNBC reports they compared the taste buds of 42 youngsters (ages 3 to 7) with chronic middle ear infections with 42 healthy kids in the same age range.

Guess what? The kids with ear infections were chubby little muffins, with a body mass index of 20.6. An average BMI for kids that age is 17. Tubby tots also had trouble tasting sugar and salt.

According to MSNBC, the researchers aren't suggesting that ear infections lead to overweight kids. They're just saying that ear infections may disturb the taste signals as they travel through the middle ear.


Then why did researchers measure the kids' BMI and meticulously note how many of them were, uh, horizontally challenged?

Clearly, they are trying to establish a connection that will bring humanity one step closer to understanding the riddle that has plagued our species from the dawn of creation: Is there a God and, if so, why does my child have love handles?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.