2010-01-27 / Editorials

Jim Hite


I hesitate to write about obesity, probably because it is in the news constantly, television is filled with commercials on how to lose weight and it is so prevalent and preventable.

But with the end of the football season, it might be worth looking at obesity among football players.

A study took place at one of the top football programs in the country, Ohio State.

Researchers examined 90 OSU players, average age 20, average weight 232 pounds.

Players were categorized as obese if their body fat was 25% or greater, rather than by the body mass index (BMI) which takes into consideration height and weight without considering muscle vs. fat.

The players were divided into three categories: offensive and defensive linemen; receivers and defensive backs; and linebackers, quarterbacks, punters and kickers.

Research showed only linemen were obese, 19 of 29. Thirteen of the 19 had insulin resistance and eight of the 19 had metabolic syndrome, meaning unhealthy readings in at least three of five measurements: blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL or good cholesterol, abdominal fat and blood sugars.

An NFL study of retired players noted linemen have a greater risk of metabolic syndrome and are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than other retired players.

The American College of Sports Medicine published this research, noting that in recent years colleges have attempted to change the training tables of their football athletes as well as educate players about a healthy diet.

With about one-third of U.S. adults obese, measured by 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight, the medical risks and costs of obesity are astronomical. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that thousands of cancer cases are the direct result of obesity, while a report last year by the United Health Foundation noted that obesity cost the country $147 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2008, double a decade ago. Presently, obesity accounts for 9.1% of medical spending.

Reed Tuckson of United Health Foundation calls it a “tsunami of chronic preventable disease.” Pediatricians consider obesity in children and young people to be a coronary time bomb.

In sum, it’s living a high-risk lifestyle. It may be safer to go sky-diving!

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