COLUMBUS, Ohio College-age football players who gain weight to add power to their blocks and tackles might also be setting themselves up for diabetes and heart disease later in life, a new study suggests.
Nearly half of a sample of collegiate offensive and defensive linemen who underwent a battery of tests for the study had metabolic syndrome. This means the players had at least three of five risk factors that indicate a person has higher chances of developing heart disease and diabetes than those without the risk factors.
Based on the results, standard health screening for these risk factors might be a good idea for all collegiate football players, said Jackie Buell, director of sports nutrition at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
"The current health of the athlete is of obvious concern, but these results suggest more attention needs to be paid to preventing future health problems at the same time," Buell said.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of clinical symptoms that include excess fat in the abdominal area (as measured by waist circumference), borderline or high blood pressure, cholesterol problems that foster plaque buildup in arteries, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance indicating the body can't properly use insulin or blood sugar, and the presence of a protein in the blood that means inflammation is present.
If a male athlete's waist measurements and blood pressure exceed set points a 40-inch waist and a blood pressure reading higher than 130 over 85 he ideally should undergo a blood test to see if high cholesterol, glucose and triglyceride levels, too, indicate that he might benefit from nutrition counseling and other health guidance to prevent chronic disease down the road, Buell said.
"With screening, we could know what their propensities are and teach them how to reduce or eliminate these risk factors before they get out of college," said Buell, who is
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Ohio State University