Neck circumference as a useful marker of obesity: a comparison with body mass index and waist circumference

J Pak Med Assoc. 2012 Jan;62(1):36-40.


Objective: To evaluate the usefulness of neck circumference as an index of excess weight and obesity in young adults while identifying its appropriate cutoff points.

Methods: The study comprised 41 male and 109 female students, aged 18-20 years. Anthropometric markers of obesity were measured, including body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and compared with neck circumference of the same subjects. Overweight and obesity levels were defined by BMI > or = 23.0 and > or = 25.0 respectively.

Results: Overall 29.2% males and 25.6% females were found overweight/obese. The mean body mass index was 21.7 kg/m2 in males and 21.0 kg/m2 in females. The mean waist and neck circumferences were higher in males (80.6 cm, and 35.5 cm) than females (78.1 cm, and 31.5 cm). Neck circumference had a strong positive correlation (p<0.001) with other relevant indicators in all subjects, except the waist-to-hip ratio which was applicable on males only. At BMI of 23.0 and 25.0, males had neck circumference 35.7cm and 37.5cm, while females had it at of 32.2cm and 33.5cm respectively.

Conclusion: Neck circumference is a potentially useful initial screening tool for overweight/obesity. A neck circumference > or = 35.5 cm in men and > or = 32 cm in women should be considered the cutoff point for overweight/obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck / anatomy & histology*
  • Obesity / diagnosis*
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Waist Circumference*
  • Young Adult