March 11, 2009 -- As your collar size grows, so does your risk of heart disease.
The finding comes from data collected from 3,320 people in two studies of heart disease risk factors.
Belly fat -- specifically, fatty deposits around the organs of the central body -- is known to increase the risk of heart disease. Sarah Rosner Preis, ScD, MPH, and colleagues theorized that upper-body fat, as measured by neck circumference, also raises heart risk.
Sure enough, they found that the bigger a person's neck size, the greater that person's risk of high levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol and blood fat, insulin resistance, and high blood sugar. This held true even after controlling for belly fat.
Rosner Preis and colleagues reported the findings at this week's American Heart Association (AHA) meeting.