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Children's Health

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High School Football Players Too Fat?

45% of High School Linemen Are Overweight, Iowa Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 23, 2007 -- High school football players may not be just big and strong; a lot of them are overweight or obese, an Iowa study shows.

The study comes from Kelly Laurson, MS, and Joey Eisenmann, PhD, of Iowa State University. Their report appears in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Laurson and Eisenmann analyzed the height and weight of 3,683 high school linemen in Iowa. Their data came from publicly available varsity team rosters.

The researchers then calculated the players' BMI (body mass index), which relates height to weight.

Based on that yardstick, 45% of the linemen were overweight.

However, BMI just gives a ratio based on weight and height; it doesn't reveal body composition. A muscular person could have a hefty BMI and actually be quite lean.

Laurson and Eisenmann didn't measure the players' body fat. But they note that their findings are in line with other studies that did compare BMI to body fat in teenage boys.

Overweight high school linemen (as well as other players) -- and their parents, doctors, and coaches -- should consider the health risks linked to extra pounds, Laurson and Eisenmann write.

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