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    Some players are topping out at 400 pounds -- and more

    By Randy Dotinga

    HealthDay Reporter

    FRIDAY, Feb. 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- As the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers gear up for Sunday's Super Bowl 50 showdown, many may be focused on the potential dangers of concussion, but that's not the only health risk football players face.

    Concern about the size of players -- especially linemen -- has been growing along with the players' waistlines. And some researchers are now suggesting that these athletes should be monitored for health problems.

    Physicians who work with overweight National Football League and college-level football players "should be aware of the potential for elevated blood pressure, diabetes and abnormal cholesterol levels," said Jeffrey Potteiger, co-author of a commentary reviewing the possible risks facing these young men. And the risk is especially high in athletes who pack plenty of fat around the abdomen, he added.

    Potteiger, a physical education specialist and dean of the graduate school at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., said these players may face even greater risks once their playing days are finished.

    For years, researchers have tracked the ever-widening bodies of football players. The average weight of offensive and defensive linemen in American college football ballooned from around 190 pounds in the 1950s to 290 pounds in 2010, previous research has shown.

    At the end of the 2014 college football season, an analysis of most teams found that the average offensive lineman weighed more than 300 pounds; the average weight on the University of Mississippi's offensive line was a stunning 334 pounds. On the pro level, the Buffalo Bills offensive line was about as heavy at an average of 332 pounds in 2014, background information in the study said.

    "In general, bigger athletes have more success in sports where size is a determining factor for success. This is especially true in American football," Potteiger said.

    "Bigger athletes are usually more powerful, harder to move, more difficult to tackle and better blockers. And if the defensive linemen are bigger, they are harder to block or move. So there is a need for bigger offensive linemen to move the defensive linemen out of the way," he said.

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