Dr. Struan Coleman, team physician for the New York Mets and a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, agreed that ballplayers' BMIs are growing, but he disagreed that there's a related health risk.
"Baseball players are getting heavier because they are getting stronger," Coleman said. "Baseball players are a very unique group" and should not be compared to the general population, where body fat is a greater problem.
When Mets players arrive for spring training, team trainers carefully monitor their weight and body fat percentage. The result is that very few players are fat, Coleman said, adding that the BMIs of players today are primarily due to muscle.
Modern athletes do more weight training and have better diets than players of 40 or 50 years ago. They also take more dietary supplements, he said.
"Size alone may not be the problem," said Coleman, suggesting that genetic predisposition and the use of steroids among some players several years ago may have heightened the mortality risk.
To learn more about BMI, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Eric L. Ding, Sc.D., Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Struan Coleman, M.D., Ph.D., Hospital for Special Surgery, and team physician, New York Mets; March 3, 2010, presentation, American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual meeting, San Francisco
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