Diet quality and hearing loss among middle-older aged adults in the USA: Findings from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Qiushi Huang, Yichen Jin, Nicholas S. Reed, Yan Ma, Melinda C. Power, Sameera A. Talegawkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the associations between overall diet quality and hearing function among middle-older aged adults in the USA.Design: Cross-sectional analysis. Diet quality was examined using the Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), using data from a single 24 h dietary recall. Hearing function was objectively measured by audiometry assessments and hearing loss, including high- and low-frequency hearing loss, was defined as pure-tone averages at specific ranges of hearing frequencies >25 dB. Weighted logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the associations of MDS (scored 0-9, categorized at the median as ≤3 or >3) with hearing loss and high- and low-frequency hearing loss.Setting: National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2000-2006 and 2009-2012.Participants: Adults aged ≥50 years (n 1639) with valid dietary and audiometry assessments.Results: After adjusting for potential confounders, a non-significant trend for a protective association of higher MDS was observed for hearing loss (OR = 0·78; 95 % CI 0·49, 1·23). A significant inverse association was observed for high-frequency hearing loss (OR = 0·64; 95 % CI 0·43, 0·95). No association was found for low-frequency hearing loss among women; however, higher MDS was significantly associated with higher odds of low-frequency hearing loss among men (OR = 2·63; 95 % CI 1·39, 4·95).Conclusions: Among middle-older aged adults, adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet was inversely associated with hearing loss, including those at high hearing frequencies, among older adults. However, a detrimental association was observed at low hearing frequencies among men. Future investigations with a longitudinal design are needed to clarify the associations between diet quality and hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)812-820
Number of pages9
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Diet quality
  • Hearing loss
  • Mediterranean diet
  • National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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