Children who are obese may face the risk of developing an ear problem called 'otitis media with effusion' - in which fluid builds up in the middle ear without causing pain, fever or other ear infection symptoms.
The study, described as the first one to investigate whether the two conditions might be connected, examined 273 South Korean children aged two to seven, including 155 kids who had tubes surgically inserted in one or both of their ears to relieve otitis media with effusion.
The remaining 118 children had other operations for conditions unrelated to their ears.
Jong Bin Kim, a doctor who works in Seoul at Kyung Hee University's department of otorhinolaryngology, and other researchers, measured the height and weight of the studied children.
Using those figures, the researchers calculated the children's BMI (body mass index), which is used to gauge obesity. Based on BMI, 65 children (42 percent) were found obese.
The researchers also measured total cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) in blood samples provided by the kids. Total cholesterol and triglycerides tend to rise with obesity, reported the online edition of health magazine WebMD.
Most of the children had normal levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides. But 19 percent had abnormally high total cholesterol levels and 35 percent had abnormally high triglyceride levels.
Obesity and high total cholesterol levels were more common among children who got ear tubes than among other children, the researchers said.
"The finding suggests that childhood obesity could have an effect on the development of otitis media with effusion," write the researchers in the study that appeared in the journal 'Archives Of Otolaryngology - Head And Neck Surgery'.