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Neck Circumference as an Effective Body Fat Measurement

Bye-Bye BMI, Hello . . . Neck Circumference

Citing a flawed formula to determine a person's BMI, a new study suggests an alternate measurement to determine whether a person is overweight or obese: neck circumference. According to the study, measuring a person's neck circumference could be a worthwhile method to help determine a person's overall fitness when used in conjunction with BMI. The study, conducted on 1,100 children, measured height, weight, and neck circumference to determine whether or not this method could be used to detect obesity, and at the conclusion of the study researchers were able to set specific measurements in children that could be associated with a higher risk of obesity.

The author of the study says that, "BMI does not accurately define central body fatness," whereas neck circumference is an inexpensive way to determine the body's fat composition. Additionally, he feels that telling someone their BMI is high does not have as lasting of an effect as telling them that their neck is too wide.

Certainly there are issues with the current BMI formula; a measurement does not differentiate between the weight of muscle and fat so the number can be skewed high in some cases — just ask these celebrities. But with a lack of other options for measuring a person's weight status, resorting to measurements like the one in this study may be the answer. For now, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of this practice in adults, but the study's author concludes that a measure of neck circumference in adults is a healthy and effective supplement to a traditional BMI measurement.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
eneriyma eneriyma 7 years
"Additionally, he feels that telling someone their BMI is high does not have as lasting of an effect as telling them that their neck is too wide." I wonder why this is?
tamaradulva tamaradulva 7 years
The military has used this measurement for years and it's effective at telling if someone is obese. It's about time the civilian world recognized this.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 7 years
I agree with imLissy. I don't see how this would be more accurate.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
" 'There's the issue of figuring out where you measure,' she said. 'If someone is obese, should the waist measurement come under or over the fold?' " I wouldn't call that a problem. If there's a fold, I don't think you need to measure to tell the person's obese. I don't really see how this is any better than BMI. I'm a small person. Even if I gained like 30 pounds, my neck would probably be smaller than a taller person of normal weight. Isn't that like determining obesity based on pant size?
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