Pot Bellies Related to Fat Necks? Maybe…

Instead of looking for flabby arms or muffin tops on children, doctors may soon be checking necks to measure obesity.

A study by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor found that measuring the thickness of a child's neck might be a more accurate way of measuring body fat.

"The things we traditionally measured were height and weight," said Dr. Laurie Berger, a pediatrician with Texas Health Plano. "Height and weight has limitations, and we've gone to BMI in the past few years.

Berger said that while BMI, or body mass index, is most commonly used, it's sometimes not accurate because it doesn't take all of a child's circumstances into consideration.

"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," Berger said. "They're healthy."

She said she's encouraged by the study and thinks checking body fat levels with a neck measurement is something that won't be as embarrassing to kids as measuring their waist.

"Lots of people can do it," she said. "It's easier to replicate, (and) it doesn't require the child being undressed."

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