Coming Soon: New Childhood Obesity Screening Tool

One time while I was thrift store shopping with my sister-in-law Martha, she held a pair of jeans up by the waist and wrapped them around her neck. She said that if the waist of a pair of pants fit around your neck than they are the right size. I wonder if Olubukola O. Nafiu, MD from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor knows this trick as well since his new neck circumference (NC) study published in Pediatrics this month says that the size of a child’s neck may help doctors determine if they are obese.

Most doctors are using BMI to screen children for overweight or obesity. So why look for another screening tool? "Because BMI does not adequately describe regional (central) adiposity, other indices of body fatness are being explored," said Dr. Nafiu. When people have large necks they sometimes are more at risk for sleep apnea, diabetes, and hypertension.

In his study, Dr. Nafiu tried to understand if there was a relationship between the BMIs of boys and girls aged 6 to 18 years and their neck sizes. He learned that neck size is related to BMI. This is good news because measuring neck size is easier, just one step, unlike BMI which takes several steps to calculate. More studies will need to be done to be sure that doctors can use this tool to screen all children for obesity.

Pediatrics. Published online July 5, 2010.
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