News Wednesday July 7, 2010

Neck size an indicator of weight issues?

Doctors have revealed that neck size could be an indication of weight problems. With BMI measurements facing hefty criticism, health professionals have discovered a break-through method to screen obesity rates.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential panel sponsored by the government’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, report that neck size can be an accurate reflection of fat levels in people as young as 6. The group has urged doctors to drop problematic Body Mass Index readings in favour for this concept.

A BMI reading is a ratio of weight to height that calculates whether a person is underweight, normal, overweight or obese. This popular indicator has faced criticism on the grounds of it of providing an inaccurate depiction of body fat levels. Rather than excess fat, the test has been criticized of measuring high muscle mass and larger bones which any healthy person can have. Simply recording a patient’s neck circumference is reported to be superior to the flawed system of measurement.

The latest study, which was published in the Journal Pediatrics, found that measuring children’s neck size was indeed profitable in identifying excess fat that could constitute obesity.

Dr Olubukola Nafiu, lead researcher from the University of Michigan in Ann Abor, insisted that neck circumference measurement could improve childhood obesity screening, condemning BMI as an imprecise indicator of body fat.

Nafiu also praised the practicality of the method, describing it as quick and comfortable to administer on patients.

On top of aiding obesity screening, researchers suggest neck measurements might be able to spot patients in danger of sleep apnea, a disorder in which, due to the pressure of excess weight on the throat, a patient experiences repeated stops and starts in their breathing during sleep.

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