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The neck knows: new study explores neck size vs. BMI as better measure of body fat

Posted Jul 06 2010 7:48am

Feet-scale-tapemeasure-md You've probably heard the old joke that BMI doesn't really stand for "Body Mass Index" but instead "Baloney Mass Index" because the commonly used measure of body fat is so notoriously inaccurate.

Now scientist say they may have found a better way to measure fat: the neck.

"We've been using BMI to advise parents and patients for making healthy choices," says lead study author Dr. Olubukola Nafiu. "Unfortunately, often we tell someone their BMI is 27 or 30, most of the time it doesn't mean much. To tell you that your neck is wide, these are some of the risks associated to it -- that we feel people would be able to relate to it better than BMI."

The new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that neck circumference may be a better and more accurate way to judge body fat.

According to :

"A wide neck circumference is associated with obesity-related conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes and hypertension, according to research. Neck circumference has been explored in studies for potential obesity and heart problems in adults.

Lead author Dr. Olubukola Nafiu and his colleagues examined 1,102 children and recorded their heights, weights and neck circumferences to determine whether this measurement could be another way to assess obesity in children."

"If a neck circumference is above what you regularly see, that raises a red flag," says Nafiu. "You want to ask further questions, then see other indices of body fat -- BMI, abdominal circumference and other parameters."

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