In a new study, researchers warn that an accumulation of fat in the neck (both the double chin and the deeper deposits) may increase the risk of heart disease and inflammation.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Granada.
Traditionally, the accumulation of fatty tissue has been considered one of the factors most strongly related to heart-metabolic risk and chronic inflammation in humans.
Previous research has shown that the accumulation of fat in the neck is linked to weight gain.
In the study, the team found that the accumulation of fat in the neck—measured with computed tomography scanning—as well as its distribution in different compartments, is associated with greater cardiometabolic risk, and a greater inflammatory status among healthy young adults, regardless of the amount of total fat.
They also found that this accumulation of fat in the neck was as powerful a factor as the accumulation of visceral fat in the prediction of cardiometabolic risk and inflammatory status, especially in men.
These results underline the need for further research in this new direction, to better understand the effect of fat accumulation in the upper part of the trunk (including the neck) in cardiometabolic risk and inflammation.
In the future, the team will examine the fat in the neck in greater depth, to understand its pathogenic role in obesity and associated diseases.
They will also determine whether specific interventions (for example, physical exercise and/or restricted calorie intake) could help reduce the accumulation of fat in the neck and implement them clinically.
One author of the study is María José Arias Téllez.
The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity.