WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
April 16, 2007 -- Obese children may be more likely to have fluid build-up
in the middle part of their ears.
So say South Korean researchers who studied childhood obesity and an ear
problem called otitis media with effusion.
In otitis media with effusion, fluid builds up in the middle ear without
causing pain, fever, or other ear infection symptoms.
Childhood obesity and otitis media with effusion are rising, but before now,
no one had investigated whether the two conditions might be connected, note the
They included Jong Bin Kim, MD, who works in Seoul, South Korea, at Kyung
Hee University's department of otorhinolaryngology.
Kim's team studied 273 Korean children aged 2-7, including 155 kids who had
tubes surgically inserted in one or both of their ears to relieve otitis media
The other 118 children had other operations for conditions unrelated to
Kim's team measured the children's height and weight. Using those figures,
the researchers calculated the children's BMI (body mass index), which is used
to gauge obesity.
Based on BMI, 65 children (42%) were obese, the study shows.
The researchers also measured total cholesterol and triglycerides (blood
fats) in blood samples provided by the kids. Total cholesterol and
triglycerides tend to rise with obesity.
Most of the children had normal levels of total cholesterol and
triglycerides. But 19% had abnormally high total cholesterol levels and 35% had
abnormally high triglyceride levels.
Obesity and high total cholesterol levels were more common among children
who got the ear tubes than among other children.
High triglyceride levels weren't associated with otitis media with
"The finding suggests that childhood obesity could have an effect on the
development of [otitis media with effusion]," write the researchers.
However, the study doesn't prove that childhood obesity or high levels of
total cholesterol cause otitis media with effusion.
The study appears in the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head &amp; Neck
SOURCES: Kim, J. Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head &amp; Neck
Surgery, April 2007; vol 133: pp 379-382. News release, JAMA/Archives.
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