National Football League records have shown a marked increase in the average weight of American Football Players over the course of the past half century. The emphasis placed on the ideology that “bigger is better” may enable these athletes to perform at higher levels of competition; there is now however an increased concern for the cardiometabolic health of these athletes due to the accumulation of fat mass rather than muscle mass. Numerous studies have proven a correlation between a high quantity of fat mass and the onset of cardiometabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. Additionally, analysis of present-day National Football League draft informatics indicates that many current professional American football players fit within the Body Mass Index classifications of overweight or obese (levels I, II, or II). In the general population, body mass index classification has been shown to be a strong indicator of an individual’s likelihood to develop cardiovascular disease. In athletic populations, body mass index may not accurately represent the overall health of the individual due to an inability to discriminate between muscle and fat mass. However, in larger athletes such as offensive and defensive linemen, subjects are large enough that it can be assumed that they are holding a moderate to high level of body fat-specifically visceral fat. Visceral fat being another major indicator of an individual’s likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease. Researchers have found that in American collegiate football players, 19.2% were hypertensive, and 61.9% were pre-hypertensive15. Race also represents a large risk factor for the development of cardiometabolic disease, with nonwhite persons being at greater risk. Considering the general racial demographics of American football, body mass index rating may not accurately represent the individual risk for the development of cardiometabolic disease and associated risk factors. The purpose of this analysis is to quantify the degree to which American football players at the collegiate and professional levels may be putting their long-term health at risk through the utilization of improper bulking techniques.
Semester/Year of Award
Michael T. Lane
Mentor Professional Affiliation
Eastern Kentucky University Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science
Open Access Thesis
Exercise and Sport Science
IRB Approval Number (if applicable)
McManus, Brianna, "A Heartbreaking Loss: An Analysis of the Long-Term Negative Cardiometabolic Effects of Unhealthy Bulking Practices in American Football Players" (2020). Honors Theses. 750.