Dietary Fat Intake and Risk of Disabling Hearing Impairment

Pavankumar Kamat


August 03, 2021


  • Higher consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) was associated with a lower risk of disabling hearing impairment in women, but not in men.

  • Replacing 5% of total energy intake from saturated fatty acids (SFAs) with equivalent energy from dietary PUFAs was associated with a reduced risk of disabling hearing impairment in women.

Why this matters

  • A deeper understanding of the effect of habitual consumption of specific fatty acids on hearing function may help in developing dietary recommendations for healthy ageing, including optimal hearing.

Study design

  • An analysis of 105,592 UK Biobank participants (47,308 men and 58,284 women; age, ≥40 years) who completed ≥1 valid 24-hour recall questionnaire (Oxford Web-Q).

  • Dietary intakes of total fatty acids, PUFAs, SFAs and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) were evaluated.

  • Functional auditory capacity was measured using a digit triplet test to determine the speech reception threshold noise.

  • Funding: None.

Key results

  • Over a median follow-up of 3.2 years, 832 men and 872 women developed disabling hearing impairment.

  • In women, higher consumption of PUFA was associated with a lower risk of disabling hearing impairment (quintile 5 vs 1: adjusted HR [aHR], 0.69; 95% CI, 0.53-0.91; P=.04).

  • Total fat, SFA and MUFA intakes had no significant association with disabling hearing impairment.

  • In men, no significant associations were observed between fatty acid intake and hearing impairment; aHRs, 95% CIs for quintile 5 vs 1 were:

    • 0.91 (0.71-1.17; P=.31) for total fat;

    • 1.09 (0.83-1.44; P=.48) for PUFA;

    • 0.85 (0.64-1.13; P=.23) for SFA; and

    • 1.01 (0.74-1.36; P=.87) for MUFA.

  • Replacing 5% of energy intake from SFAs with equivalent energy from PUFAs was associated with a reduced risk of disabling hearing function in women (aHR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.74-0.77).


  • Use of 24-hour recall questionnaires to assess habitual diet.


Yévenes-Briones H, Caballero FF, Struijk EA, Lana A, Rodríguez-Artalejo F, Lopez-Garcia E. Dietary fat intake and risk of disabling hearing impairment: a prospective population-based cohort study. Eur J Nutr. 2021 Jul 21 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1007/s00394-021-02644-7. PMID: 34287672.  View abstract 

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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