'Obese' label may not apply to heavy ex-NFL players

July 30, 2012
'Obese' label may not apply to heavy ex-NFL players
Standard BMI measurement doesn't account for muscle mass, overestimates obesity in athletes, study finds.

(HealthDay) -- Standard definitions of obesity, which are based on height and weight, may not apply to former National Football League players and other groups with greater muscle mass, according to a new study.

"We found [body-mass index] to overestimate the number of obesity cases in a population of retired professional football athletes," Dr. Mark Hyman and colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a news release from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The study was published in the July issue of the .

Critics of the widespread use of BMI to determine obesity have noted that highly fit athletes such as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would be considered overweight using that measurement alone.

Researchers compared several measures of obesity among a group of nearly 130 former NFL who had retired up to 32 years before the study began. Based on the standard definition of obesity -- having a BMI of 30 or higher -- 67 percent of the players would be considered obese.

The former players also underwent a test called dual-energy X-ray , or DEXA, to provide a detailed measurement of their fat and lean body mass. The researchers noted the DEXA cutoff point for obesity is 25 percent body fat, or 27 percent for those older than 40. Based on this measure, only 13 percent of the retired athletes were classified as obese.

The study concluded that DEXA may provide a more accurate measure of obesity in this unique population. The researchers also argued that raising the BMI cutoff from 30 to 40 would be a more appropriate definition of obesity among retired football players. They noted, however, that a BMI of 40 or more for the general population would be an indication of severe obesity.

The longer a player's NFL career, the more likely they were to be obese by either definition, the researchers found. Those with a BMI of 30 or more also were more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea, a common obesity-related condition. More research is needed on risks and prevention among NFL players, the study authors said.

Explore further: Obesity epidemic in America found significantly worse than previously believed

More information:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on obesity.

Related Stories

Obesity epidemic in America found significantly worse than previously believed

April 2, 2012
The scope of the obesity epidemic in the United States has been greatly underestimated, according to a study published Apr. 2 in the open access journal PLoS ONE. Researchers found that the Body Mass Index (BMI) substantially ...

Obesity and depression independently increase health costs

October 31, 2011
Obesity and depression both dramatically increase health care costs, but they mainly act separately, according to a study published in the November 2011 Journal of General Internal Medicine by Group Health Research Institute ...

Study examines use of waist measures among overweight and obese adolescents

April 2, 2012
Waist measures (waist circumference, waist to height ratio) in conjunction with body mass index appear to be associated with lipid and blood pressure assessments among overweight and obese adolescents, according to a report ...

Recommended for you

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Parents modeling healthy behaviors leads to markedly better outcomes for children

December 13, 2017
When trying to help children lose weight, involving a parent in the treatment makes the entire family healthier, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown.

'Obesity paradox' not found when measuring new cases of cardiovascular disease

December 7, 2017
Although obesity is a well-known risk factor for getting cardiovascular disease, a controversial body of research suggests that obesity may actually be associated with improved survival among people who have cardiovascular ...

Harmful effects of being overweight underestimated

December 1, 2017
The harmful effects of being overweight have been underestimated, according to a new study that analysed body mass index (BMI), health and mortality data in around 60,000 parents and their children, to establish how obesity ...

More than half of US children will have obesity as adults if current trends continue

November 29, 2017
If current trends in child obesity continue, more than 57% of today's children in the U.S. will have obesity at age 35, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Exercise alone does not lead to weight loss in women—in the medium term

November 23, 2017
Knowing whether or not exercise causes people to lose weight is tricky. When people take up exercise, they often restrict their diet – consciously or unconsciously – and this can mask the effects of the exercise. In our ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.