Ear Infections May Increase Obesity Risk
Damage to Taste Nerves May Be to Blame, Researchers Say
'Big Leap of Faith'
The research presented in Boston largely involved reanalysis of existing databases.
All agree that studies designed specifically to examine the question of whether chronic ear infections and tonsil surgery play a role in obesity are needed to prove the hypothesis.
"Given the epidemic of obesity in this country and the fact that children are becoming overweight at younger and younger ages, this really should be something we look at more carefully," Daly tells WebMD.
But ear specialist John W. House, MD, of the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles isn't so sure.
"We see thousands of children and adults with chronic ear infections at our clinic every year," he says. "If this association were real we would see it in our patients, but we don't."
University of Pittsburgh ear, nose and throat physician Barry Hirsch, MD, FACS, tells WebMD that the studies presented at the Boston symposium fall far short of proving a link between ear infections, tonsil surgery, and obesity.
House and Hirsch are both spokesmen for the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.
"It is a big leap of faith to say from this type of research that ear problems cause obesity," he says.