Thickness of the neck may help diagnose obesity at a young age - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/20/10

Thickness of the neck may help diagnose obesity at a young age

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By Karin McCay| email

Edited by Kristin Beerman | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) –  Doctors usually measure a child's body fat by calculating the body mass index, or BMI, using the child's height and weight, but Laurie Berger, M.D, a pediatrician, says that's not always accurate.

"The BMI is sort of an esoteric number that doesn't mean a whole lot to parents or kids," said Dr. Berger.  "It also doesn't account for muscle mass, so I have some real fit athletes who come in, very muscular and they have elevated BMIs, they're healthy."

Dr. Berger is among many pediatricians looking at a new theory from the University of Michigan.  It suggests that instead of checking the waistline, measuring the thickness of the neck might be a better way to see if your child is obese. Since neck thickness and obesity are related, University of Michigan researchers say, for example, if the neck of a six year old boy is more than 11.2 inches, the child is more than three and a half times as likely to be obese.

Dr. Berger says measuring the neck sounds good because it's not as embarrassing for the child, since it doesn't require them to get undressed.

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