Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in a Division III Football Team
Metabolic syndrome [MS] is a clustering of clinical symptoms including increased abdominal obesity, high blood pressure [BP], elevated triglycerides [TG], low high-density lipoproteins [HDLs], and elevated fasting blood glucose [FBG]. Three of these five criteria must be present in order for MS to be clinically diagnosed. MS increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The physique of football linemen is consistent with increased mass and abdominal fat stores (1).
Purpose: to examine the prevalence of MS in young athletes.
Methods: IRB approval and informed consent was obtained for each of the 22 DIII football players (linemen, n = 15; non-linemen, n = 7). Subjects completed a three-day food log to record food and beverage intake. Height, weight [WT], waist circumference [WC], BP, FBG and lipids were measured. Individual subjects discussed food logs with a student researcher and completed medical history questionnaires.
Results: Pearson correlation coefficients and an analysis of variance were used for statistical analyses. Linemen compared to non-linemen met MS criteria for WC [73% vs. 0%], HDL [40% vs. 14%], and systolic BP [SBP] [80% vs. 57%]. WC and SBP significantly correlated with WT (r = 0.898 p = 0.000; r = 0.494 p = 0.019). SBP significantly correlated with total fat [TF] and saturated fat [SF] intake (r = 0.439 p = 0.041; r = 0.427 p = 0.047). The SBP for all subjects averaged 40% higher than an age matched cohort from NHANES.
Conclusions: despite being physically active, the prevalence of MS amongst linemen was 27% and 14% among non-linemen. These results may predict future health problems in DIII football players since the prevalence in NFL linemen retirees is 60% (2). Given the significant correlation with TF and SF and SBP and the high WC, nutritional counseling may help reduce cardiometabolic risk factors. Future research should examine whether the presence of MS risk factors also affects performance.
 Wilkerson, et. al. (2010). Journal of Athletic Training, 45, 67-74.
 Miller, et. al. (2008). American Journal of Cardiology, 101, 1281-4.
Jamie Obler was intending to present his research at the Northland Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine but the conference was cancelled due to weather.
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