Neck Circumference an Accurate Measure of Obesity in Kids

Measuring a child’s neck circumference is more accurate than body mass index to determine whether a child is overweight or obese, a new study shows.

Researchers from the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital found that measuring a child’s neck circumference can be a more reliable method of determining whether a child is overweight or obese than body mass index (BMI).

Doctors currently rely on body mass index (BMI), a formula related to a person’s height and weight, to diagnose obesity. Many medical professionals note that BMI is not a perfect measure because it does not take into account the distribution of belly fat or muscle mass.

Researchers used data from 1,102 children ranging in age from 6 to 16 years old and measured the correlation of their neck circumference with measurements of their heights, weights and waist circumference, in addition to their ages and BMI statistics.

Neck circumference was found to be the most reliable alternative to BMI when it was adjusted to the child’s age and gender.

“The body mass index doesn’t tell you what is responsible for someone’s weight. In some cases it could all come from muscle, but your BMI could still indicate that you are overweight,” said lead researcher Dr. Olubukola “Bukky” Nafiu.

The likelihood of someone having an exceptionally muscular neck that could distort results is not as much of a problem with kids as it can be with adults, researchers noted.

The findings could lead to changes in the way obesity is measured in children, according to Dr. Nafiu.

“In the next few years, I believe more and more doctors will start screening for obesity and overweight using neck circumference measurements and other methods, instead of the BMI,” he said.

One Response

  1. Melody

    Short and sweet article. My dooctr advised me pretty much the same thing. Eat smaller portions and eat atleast three meals a day in addition to healthy snacks; nuts, fressh and dried fruits. Avoid the usual junk food snaks, soda and don’t touch the salt shaker. I guess it all boils down to healthy & balanced meals, instead of how much you eat.


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