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1 in 4 NFL Players Classified as Extremely Obese

March 1, 2005 - Professional football players may be twice as likely to be considered obese as armchair quarterbacks.

Researchers found more than half of National Football League (NFL) players were obese according to their body mass index (BMI).body mass index (BMI). Only about a quarter of other men in the same age group were obese.

In addition, more than a quarter of NFL players were classified as extremely obese (known as class 2 obesity).

BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height and is used to indicate body fat. However, BMI is a bit controversial. It can appear elevated in very muscular people. For instance, bodybuilders with a very low body-fat percentage often have a BMI in the obese range.

However, the researchers say that it's unlikely that the high BMIs of NFL players, especially those in the extremely obese range, were due to healthy muscle mass.

For most people, even fit people, BMI is a good indicator of health. Multiple studies have shown that people with a BMI over 25 are more likely to get life-threatening illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Calculators are available to determine your BMI.determine your BMI.

But some research indicates that waist size may be a better indicatorwaist size may be a better indicator of health than BMI.

NFL Players Pack on Pounds

According to the National Institutes of Health, the following BMI ranges are used to indicate normal weight, overweight, and obesity:

Weight ClassificationBMI
Normal weight18.5-24.9
Obese class 130-34.9
Obese class 235-39.9
Obese class 340+

In their study, which appears in the March 2 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers obtained the weights, heights, and positions for active NFL players in the 2003-2004 season from the official NFL web site.

Data were available for 2,168 NFL players; researchers calculated the BMI for each player and team.

More than 56% of the NFL players had a BMI over 30, which classifies them as obese. That's double the percentage of obese men in the U.S. aged 20-39 years, according to a national survey (56% vs. 23%).

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