Fat neck may signal heart risk
Besides ballooned waistlines, a fat neck may also signal possible trouble for the heart. The thickness of an individual's neck may provide clues to their risk of developing heart problems.health and fitness Updated: Mar 12, 2009 18:19 IST
Besides ballooned waistlines, a fat neck may also signal possible trouble for the heart, warns a new study.
According to researchers from the Framingham Heart Study, the thickness of an individual's neck may provide clues to their risk of developing heart problems.
The boffins said that even those with relatively trim waistlines appeared to be at greater risk if they had larger necks.
In the study, risk was defined as having lower levels of "good" cholesterol for instance, or higher levels of blood glucose.
The results were presented to a meeting of the American Heart Association.
To reach the conclusion, the team looked at more than 3,300 women and men with an average age of 51.
In the research, average neck circumferences were 40.5cm for men and 34.2cm for women. For every nearly-3cm more of neck, men had 2.2 milligrams of less good cholesterol per decilitre of blood (mg/dl) and women 2.7mg/dl.
Good cholesterol - or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) - takes cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it is broken down, reports The BBC.
Having lower than 40mg/dl if you are a man, and 50 mg/dl if you are a woman is thought to put you at higher risk of heart disease.
Neck size made no difference to levels of bad cholesterol - or low density lipoprotein (LDL) - which can cause harm, but it did affect blood glucose levels - for every 3cm more of neck men had 3.0mg/dl more and women 2.1mg/dl.
While risk was higher regardless of waistline, it was compounded for those who had both a fat neck and who were larger than average around the middle, eth research found.
The team speculated that a fat neck may be a "crude measure" of upper body fat - which has been associated with heart risks.
Professor Jimmy Bell of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre said: "What you don''t want is fat around your liver or heart, and this can happen even if you look fine on the outside. Dieting isn't what you need to shift this - it's exercise."