Do you have a fat neck? If so, according to recent findings from the Framingham (Mass.) Heart Study, you many also have an increased risk for heart disease.
When you think about it, the neck rarely gets very much media attention when it comes to health matters. It may be time for the part of the body that separates the head from the shoulders to have its 15 minutes of fame.
Researchers found the fatter the neck, the greater the chance of having decreased amounts of good cholesterol, that is, the HDL. Having a low HDL has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
There was also an association between a fat neck and increased blood sugar or glucose levels.
However, the presence of a fat neck was not associated with an increase of LDL, or the bad cholesterol.
It was conjectured that a fat neck was an indicator of increased upper body fat while an increase in abdominal girth indicated increased lower body fat.
People who had normal abdominal circumference measurements, that is, not having a big belly, but had a fat neck, still had an increased risk for heart disease. If a big belly and a fat neck were present, the risk was even greater.
There results have not yet been published but were presented at an American Heart Association meeting. Therefore, we need to await more information before conclusions can be rendered.
If fat around the neck is not a good sign then what about fat around the arms? Has anyone done any studies on the possible association of fat arms and heart disease?
To put this all in perspective, extra fat anywhere is not good for you. And we all know how to prevent getting extra body fat, bringing us back to the basics.
So, put down that tape measure and don't try to measure your neck. You are better off concentrating on what we have been preaching for many years: Eat proper foods, maintain a normal weight, and exercise.
By following this advice, not only will your entire body look better, but as a bonus you will also have a very shapely neck.
Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Center, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.
author: Dr. Murray Feingold