As Pro Baseball Players Get Bigger, So Do Their Health Risks: Study

But N.Y. Mets team doctor disputes finding, saying better training, diet fueling the increase

HealthDay—March 4, 2010

The fattening of America has touched even professional baseball players: A new study contends they've been getting heavier and bulkier over the past century, resulting in a higher risk of weight-related disease and death.

A new study from The Harvard School of Public Health examined the body-mass index of more than 15,000 major league players, stretching back to 1876. Researchers found that the BMI for all players has steadily increased over the years -- with the largest increase seen in home run hitters.
Dr. Struan Coleman, team physician for the New York Mets and a sports medicine specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, agreed that ballplayers' BMIs are growing, but he disagreed that there's a related health risk.

"Baseball players are getting heavier because they are getting stronger," Coleman said. "Baseball players are a very unique group" and should not be compared to the general population, where body fat is a greater problem.

When Mets players arrive for spring training, team trainers carefully monitor their weight and body fat percentage. The result is that very few players are fat, Coleman said, adding that the BMIs of players today are primarily due to muscle.

Modern athletes do more weight training and have better diets than players of 40 or 50 years ago. They also take more dietary supplements, he said.

"Size alone may not be the problem," said Coleman, suggesting that genetic predisposition and the use of steroids among some players several years ago may have heightened the mortality risk.

Read the full article at healthday.com.

 

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