Background: Neck circumference, a proxy for upper-body sc fat, may be a unique fat depot that confers additional cardiovascular risk above and beyond central body fat.
Methods and results: Participants with neck circumference measures who underwent multidetector computed tomography to assess visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were included [n=3307, 48% women; mean age=51 yr; mean body mass index (BMI)=27.8 kg/m2; mean neck circumference=40.5 cm (men) and 34.2 cm (women)]. Sex-specific linear regression models were used to assess the association between sd increase in neck circumference and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (systolic and diastolic blood pressure; total, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides; and fasting plasma glucose, insulin, proinsulin, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance). Neck circumference was correlated with VAT [r=0.63 (men); r=0.74 (women); P<0.001] and BMI [r=0.79 (men); r=0.80 (women); P<0.001]. After further adjustment for VAT, neck circumference was positively associated with systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure in men only, triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose in women only, insulin, proinsulin, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance and was inversely associated with high-density lipoprotein (all P values<0.01). Similar results were observed in models that adjusted for both VAT and BMI. In a secondary analysis of incident CVD as an outcome, there was no statistically significant association observed for neck circumference in multivariable-adjusted models.
Conclusions: Neck circumference is associated with CVD risk factors even after adjustment for VAT and BMI. These findings suggest that upper-body sc fat may be a unique, pathogenic fat depot.