An individual’s neck can be a great indicator of his or her health status, says a new study conducted by researchers in the United States.

Measuring your neck may provide an easier way to calculate body fat than the routinely used body mass index, or BMI calculations, says the research published in the Journal Pediatrics. A short, wide neck can be predictive of diseases related to obesity such as sleep apnea, diabetes and high blood pressure, say researchers at the University Of Michigan School Of Medicine.

The researchers measured the necks of 1,102 children using a measuring tape to arrive at this conclusion. Apart from the neck diamensions they have also recorded the children’s heights and weights . The data suggest size of the neck can indicate weight problems and related disease risk at different ages.

If a six-year-old boy’s neck measures greater than 11.2 inches he would have more than three times the risk of being overweight or obese. Not only the measurements but certain other signs on or around the neck could also be indicative of some underlying malady.

Necks can reveal a lot of things and physicians will be able to suggest possible remedies for health risks depending on where someone carries weight. A dark ring, for example on the back of a kid’s neck, can be indicative of diabetes.

Body mass index or BMI is a useful measure of body fatness. BMI is defined as the ratio of a person's weight over his or her height. The normal BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9. Overweight is defined as a BMI greater than 25 whereas obesity is a BMI greater than 30.

BMI is often used to assess a person's obesity-related health risks. For example, a man's relative risk for Type 2 diabetes is increased by twofold at a BMI of 25 compared with a BMI of 22. A woman with a BMI of 25 has twice risk of over eight-fold compared with a BMI of 22. For a woman with a BMI greater than 35, the relative risk for Type 2 diabetes is close to 90 times higher.