Neck Circumference Can Be A Sign Of Health Problems

by Chandrama Deshmukh

The circumference of your neck may not seem very significant, but it can be used to diagnose if you are suffering from health problems such as goiter (enlargement of the thyroid), Cushing’s syndrome, or even hormonal problems. Adriana Hachiya and João Eduardo Salles, an otolaryngologist and an endocrinologist respectively, claim that the circumference of your neck can let doctors know a lot about your health.


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If the circumference of a woman’s neck is greater than 34 cm (38 cm in the case of men), then there is a high possibility that she is suffering from at least one of the following four conditions that make up the metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and altered triglycerides.

According to the NCBI, National Center for Biotechnology Information, there is a strong correlation between the circumference of the neck and obesity in people (1). In a study published by the NCBI, it is said that the cutoff point for obesity in men should be a neck circumference that is greater than or equal to 35.5 cm. Whereas, a neck circumference greater than or equal to 32 cm in women would be sufficient to deem them overweight/obese.


Image: iStock

Another health problem that can be identified by the size of your neck is Cushing’s syndrome. This condition, also referred to as hypercortisolism, is a hormonal problem that is caused when the body produces an unusually high amount of the hormone cortisol (2).

There are several reasons that cause someone to be affected by Cushing’s syndrome, but one of the main reasons is overuse of drugs that contain corticosteroids. One of the major symptoms of the Cushing’s syndrome is the deposition of fat in the face and upper back region, causing you to have a larger swollen neck referred to as a buffalo hump (3).

Other symptoms that let a doctor diagnose a patient with Cushing’s syndrome include increased acne, redness of the cheeks, increased hair growth (in women), and weakness in the muscles.

There are several ways to treat a patient who has been diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome. In case the patient has developed a tumor, surgery is required to remove it. For milder cases, doctors may prescribe medicines to help the patients manage their cortisol levels.

Neck circumference can also act as a useful indicator for cardiovascular diseases. Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT) is an unusual pathogenic fatty tissue that has a strong correlation with cardiovascular diseases (4). In a study conducted by BioMed Central on Chinese population, it was found that there was a significant correlation between the circumference of a person’s neck and the amount of VAT deposits present in a person’s body (especially in the abdominal regions). This allows researchers to conclude that the size of your neck can indicate whether you are at risk of cardiovascular diseases or not.


Image: iStock

Researchers are carrying out studies to replace the inefficient method currently used to measure whether a person is overweight/obese. Body Mass Index (BMI) takes measures for a person’s height and weight and calculates whether they are overweight/obese by comparing their BMI with a pre-determined scale.

The problem with this method is that it classifies well-built athletes as obese and fails to indicate the excess body fat in older people. The reason it is still widely used by clinics to calculate whether a person is overweight/obese is because it is simple to perform and cost-effective.

Dr. Olubukola Nafiu and his team of researchers carried out a study on 1,102 children and recorded their weight, height, and neck circumference to determine whether this method could be used to better calculate whether a child is overweight/obese (5). The researchers found out that a 6-year-old child with a neck circumference greater than 28.4 cm had a 3.6 times greater chance of being obese as compared to a fellow peer who had a neck circumference lower than 28.4 cm.

There are several exercises that will help you tone your neck muscles. Although these exercises are great to shape and define your neck, you need to realize that if you accumulate fat on your neck, it could be because you are overweight/obese. Therefore, it is recommended to merge these neck exercises along with exercises that help you burn calories.

Another way to lose neck fat is by drinking a lot of water on a daily basis. Water plays an essential role in the metabolic processes that occur in our body. Without enough water, it would become very difficult for your body to get rid of toxins, making it very difficult for you to lose weight. Water also helps keep your skin hydrated, which prevents sagging and other issues. A tighter skin would help prevent the development of a double chin.

The neck circumference of a person is very useful in determining whether a person is healthy or suffering from health problems such as sleep apnea, hypertension, or obesity. It is essential to keep a regular check on your neck circumference to help you understand if you are in good shape rather than relying on inefficient methods such as BMI.

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Chandrama Deshmukh

Creativity has no limits. And words have no barriers. Together they can create magic, bridge all gaps.I work with words. Words that sound great, words that make sense, words that sell and words that tell.