In a new study from Anglia Ruskin University, researchers found that men who suffer sensory loss, particularly hearing loss, are more likely to be physically inactive and obese than women.
In the study, the team analyzed data from more than 23,000 Spanish adults, and examined associations with physical inactivity and obesity in people with vision and hearing loss, and explored differences between men and women.
The team found inactive people with hearing loss were 1.78 times more likely to be obese compared to those who did not have any hearing loss.
In people who had difficulty seeing, the odds ratio is slightly smaller, with a likelihood of obesity being 1.375 times higher than those who did not report vision loss.
The association between physical activity and obesity was higher in men with hearing loss, who were 2.319 times more likely to be obese than women who reported difficulty hearing.
Obesity in those with sight loss was 1.56 times higher in inactive men than women.
Those with combined seeing and hearing difficulties had the highest prevalence of physical inactivity (44.8%) and obesity (26.1%).
Analysis showed a strong link between physical inactivity and obesity in men with vision or hearing loss, but not in women.
Around 62% of adults in Spain are overweight, with 26% reporting as obese. In the UK, the figures are broadly similar at around 64% and 28% respectively, suggesting strong similarities between the countries.
A total of 11.04% of the people surveyed self-reported vision loss, 6.96% reported hearing loss, and 3.93% reported suffering both vision and hearing loss.
The team says although women were overall less physically active than men, there is an association between physical inactivity and obesity in men, but not in women.
This shows that, especially in people with vision and hearing losses, exercise and being active has a very important role in preventing obesity for men.
Adults, especially those with sensory losses, should be encouraged to be as physically active as possible but there are obviously challenges, strongly suggesting that intervention and encouragement would play a very important role.
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The study is published in the European Journal of Public Health. One author of the study is Professor Shahina Pardhan.
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