Friday, July 9, 2010

Neck thickness: sleep apnea sign and body fat indicator?

A new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests measuring neck circumference may be a better way to calculate body fat than the Body Mass Index. The authors believe their findings could expand doctors’ ability to detect obstructive sleep apnea.

Researchers tested neck thickness as a predictor for body fat by recording the height, weight and neck circumference of more than 1,100 children. Their necks were measured using a flexible tape at where the adam’s apple is located. Researchers compared the three measurements and came up with these standards for obesity by neck circumference:

Boys
Age 6: 11.2 inches
Age 10: 12.6 inches
Age 14: 14.2 inches
Age 18 15.4 inches

Girls
Age 6: 10.6 inches
Age 10: 12 inches
Age 14: 12.6 inches
Age 18: 13.6 inches

The authors suggest neck circumference would be a suitable replacement for BMI. Public health agencies use BMI to track obesity in various populations. Some critics say the BMI is flawed and inaccurate because it only accounts for height and weight.

More cases of obstructive sleep apnea could be identified and treated earlier if neck circumference were to supplant BMI and become part of regular physical examinations. Neck thickness is one of the main predictors of obstructive sleep apnea. Breathing pauses often occur when extra fatty tissue in the throat keeps air from flowing freely as you sleep.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.