The research is published in the current issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.
The American Heart Association estimates that more than 50 million Americans have metabolic syndrome.
Buell noted that the presence of these combined risk factors does not automatically mean the football players are destined for disease. But it does suggest a heightened risk that could be reduced with lifestyle modifications.
In the study, researchers tested a total of 70 football linemen from Division I, II and III college programs as defined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Of those, 34 athletes had at least three risk factors indicating they had metabolic syndrome based on measures of waist circumference, glucose levels, high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or good cholesterol), blood pressure and triglycerides.
Of those 34, one athlete had all five risk factors, and eight had four risk factors.
Large waists and low HDL were characteristics shared by all but two of the 34 athletes qualifying for metabolic syndrome. Elevated blood pressure was reported in all but five of those 34 players.
Among the trends the researchers saw were generally low levels of HDL cholesterol, which affected the athletes' cholesterol ratio, a measurement that offers more health information than a total cholesterol reading. The ratio refers to how the total cholesterol measurement relates to HDL cholesterol, and is obtained by dividing the HDL cholesterol level into the total cholesterol. The heart association's goal is to keep the ratio below 5:1; the optimum ratio is 3.5:1. Thirty-two of the athletes studied had ratios higher than 5:1.
"We assume this doesn't happen in a young person," Buell said. "The point of this research is, if you don't do a study like this, you don't know. I think we all assume they don't have these health risks because they're athletes.
|Contact: Jackie Buell|
Ohio State University