Moderate-to-severe ear infections in children may damage a taste-sensing serve that could pave the way for overeating and adult obesity, reported researchers at the American Chemical Society Fall 2008 meeting.
The findings were based on two data sets: one of responses to a taste questionnaire administered to 7,308 persons, and the other a detailed group of studies of 120 participants.
The questionnaire responses showed that 17% of those with a history of moderate-to-severe ear infections were obese, while 9% of those with no infection history were obese. In addition, 37% of those with an ear infection history were overweight, compared with 32% of those who were overweight with no such history.
Participants with a significant infection history also assigned higher pleasure scores to sweet and rich foods. The findings suggest that there may be a role of chorda tympani damage in mediating the link between childhood ear infection and later obesity.