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No, You Can't be Fat & Fit

Football player early deaths show it's not possible - As the baseball season winds up for the year, we turn our attention to the NFL. Today's athletes are bigger than ever, and size and strength can mean the difference between championships, scholarships and million-dollar paydays. But new research comparing the signs of metabolic syndrome in professional baseball and football players reveals that the larger professional athletes, especially football linemen, may encounter future health problems despite their rigorous exercise routines. Professional football players are twice as likely to die before age 50 as professional baseball players.

Researcher Michael Selden says, "Most studies that have examined cardiometabolic risks in professional athletes have been conducted after athletes retire. This is one of the first to study athletes in the midst of their playing careers. We expect professional athletes to be in peak physical condition given the demands of their jobs and the amount of time they spend exercising heavily. However, there does not seem to be a complete protective effect of exercise, particularly among the larger athletes: football linemen. Instead, the impact of their sheer size may outweigh the positive benefits of exercise to mitigate their risk for cardiometabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, and insulin resistance."

Researcher John Helzberg says, "As younger athletes in high school and college are encouraged to get larger for competitive reasons, these conditions may manifest themselves in younger and younger populations. For the population in general, the concept that you can be both fat and fit may simply not be true."

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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