Adipose tissue distribution is one of the key determinants of metabolic dysfunction in obesity. Several large scale studies found that enlarged neck circumference is independently associated with cardiovascular risk.
The aim of this study was to examine the association of neck circumference with metabolic risk factors in patients undergoing neck surgery.
In 36 patients undergoing thyroid or vascular neck surgery we determined serum levels of insulin, glucose, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol and C-reactive protein. We performed anthropometric measurements (body weight and height, BMI, waist circumference and neck circumference) and body composition analysis. We also evaluated carotid intima-media thickness and the presence of carotid plaques. Study participants did not have any inflammatory or malignant diseases. They also did not have any thyroid or other specific neck mass that could particularly enlarge neck circumference.
Statistically significant positive correlations were found between neck circumference, other anthropometric measures of obesity and body fat mass (P<0.05). Neck circumference also positively correlated with levels of insulin, glucose and triglycerides, but negatively with HDL-cholesterol (P<0.05). Neck circumference was associated with carotid intima-media thickness (P<0.05). Patients with carotid plaques had significantly larger neck circumference (P<0.05). In correlations with metabolic risk factors, neck circumference did not show any difference from waist circumference.
These preliminary results support the hypothesis that at least part of neck adipose tissue my be related to the metabolically adverse impact similar to ectopic fat. Samples of adipose tissue taken during neck surgery might bring further information about this particular fat depot. In that context we plan to proceed with investigations on neck adipose tissue samples from subcutaneous and perivascular locations.