The study, conducted in 2007, involved 90 players from Ohio State's football team. The players were grouped for analysis on the basis of size and similarity of positions offensive and defensive linemen; wide receivers and defensive backs; and tight ends, linebackers, quarterbacks, punters and kickers.
Researchers measured the athletes' blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin levels, cholesterol, triglycerides, height, weight, waist circumference and body fat percentage during a single study visit after the players had fasted for about 10 hours.
One in five of the players, all linemen, registered 25 percent or more body fat, a clinical definition of obesity. The researchers did not use body mass index, a ratio of weight to height, to determine obesity because it is not considered a valid measure for strength-trained athletes, Borchers said.
Nineteen of 29 linemen were obese. Of those 19, 11 showed signs of insulin resistance; overall, linemen accounted for 68 percent of the players meeting criteria for this condition. The odds for insulin resistance in the obese group were 10.6 times the odds for insulin resistance in the nonobese group.
Insulin resistance means that the presence of insulin does not initiate the transfer of sugar, or glucose, from the blood into the tissues, where it is used for energy. It is associated with excess weight and low activity levels, and increases a person's chances of developing diabetes and heart disease.
Of those same 19 linemen, eight met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, and they were the only players in the study to have this cluster of risk factors.
People with metabolic syndrome have three or more of the following conditions: excess fat in the abdominal area based on a measure of waist circumference, borderline or high blood pressure, cholesterol problems that foster plaque buildup in arteries, insulin
|Contact: James Borchers|
Ohio State University