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What Are the Causes of Excessive Fat Around the Neck?

author image Betty Holt
Betty Holt began writing professionally in 1966 as co-editor of a summer mimeographed newspaper, "The Galax News." She has written for "Grit," "Mountain Living," "Atlanta Weekly" and others. Holt received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Education from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her articles specialize in health, fitness, nutrition and mental health.
What Are the Causes of Excessive Fat Around the Neck?
Excess neck fat is most often caused by being overweight.

Although neck fat can be caused by several different factors, one of the main reasons for it is the same reason for excess fat anywhere on the body: excess body weight and obesity. Neck fat can be caused by or contribute to certain health conditions, and can signal an increased risk of heart problems.

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Overweight and Obesity

Being overweight and obese are both caused by an energy imbalance. More energy in terms of nutrition is taken in than used up. Many Americans are not physically active and are more likely to gain weight because they don't burn up the calories they take in. Genetic factors and inherited dispositions toward weight gain and fat storage run in families. Health conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome and polycystic ovarian syndrome can cause weight gain and obesity. Certain medications, stopping smoking, aging, pregnancy and lack of sleep are all factors in weight gain and excess fat.

Cushing's Syndrome

Cushing's Syndrome, also called hypercortisolism, is a hormone disorder which is a result of the body's tissues being exposed over a long length of time to high levels of the hormone cortisol. The disorder is relatively rare, affecting adults between 20 and 50 years old, and more often found in those with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. People with Cushing's syndrome have upper body obesity, a rounded face and increased fat around the neck with relatively slender arms and legs.

Neck Fat Risks

For a long time doctors have measured fat in the gut, known as visceral adipose tissue, to determine the risk of cardiovascular disease. Fat in the neck is also closely associated with some of the known risks for heart trouble, such as high cholesterol and diabetes, the Framingham Heart Study reported. The study used data on 3,320 offspring of the study's original participants. Although the standard way to assess obesity is by measuring the waist and body-mass index, neck fatness could add to the risk assessment a doctor makes by measuring the waistline, the researchers suggested. The basic message is that too much fat in any location is not good for the heart. People with a body-mass index over 25 have an increased risk of coronary problems, regardless of where they are carrying their weight. Neck fat can also increase the risk of sleep apnea by helping to close off the airways in the throat.


The best way to lose neck fat or any other fat in your body is by eating properly and exercising. There are some exercises that help strengthen and tone neck muscles and may help improve flexibility. Rotating the neck is one of them. Keeping your body straight, slowly turn your head to look to the left as far as you can. Then turn slowly to the right. Repeat five to 10 times. For the side tilt, sit or stand straight and slowly tilt your head to the left side, and do not go as far as you can to let your ear touch your shoulder. Hold for a count of 10, then come back and do the other side. You can also do the tilt from front to back, tilting your head back for a couple of seconds, then return to starting. Repeat five to 10 times.

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