Neck circumference is an accurate and simple index for evaluating overweight and obesity in Han children

Dong-Hui Lou, Fu-Zai Yin, Rui Wang, Chun-Ming Ma, Xiao-Li Liu, Qiang Lu
Annals of Human Biology 2012, 39 (2): 161-5

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of obesity has reached alarming levels in recent years. Neck circumference (NC) has been shown to be an indicator of central adiposity.

AIM: The purpose of this study was to analyse whether NC can be used to determine overweight and obesity in Han Chinese children.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: In 2011, anthropometric measurements were gathered in a cross-sectional, population-based study of 2847 Han children aged 7-12 years. Overweight and obesity were defined according to the 2004 Chinese obesity task force definition. Receiver operating characteristic curve analyses were conducted to assess the accuracy of NC as a diagnostic test for elevated body mass index (BMI) (overweight and obesity).

RESULTS: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in boys was 18.0% and 26.0%, respectively, and 11.7% and 15.7%, respectively, for girls. The mean NC in boys was significantly greater than in girls (29.2 ± 3.1 cm vs 28.1 ± 2.8 cm, p < 0.001). NC was significantly correlated with age, BMI and waist circumference in both boys and girls (p < 0.001 for all comparisons). NC cut-off values for elevated BMI were between 27.4~31.3 cm in boys and 26.3~31.4 cm in girls. The sensitivities were 75.5~86.7% in boys and 80.0~92.5% in girls. The specificities were 73.9~91.7% in boys and 74.7~93.3% in girls.

CONCLUSION: The present study demonstrates that NC is a simple, inexpensive and accurate measurement that may be used to identify overweight and obesity in Han children.

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