Fat Ballin'

“Bulking up is dangerous to one's longevity,” Dr. Fuhrman replied when I asked him about the immense size of football players, “Linebackers often eat in a way that radically shortens their lives.” And it’s starting younger and younger. Check out this New York Times report:

Two studies this year, one published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and another in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that weight problems among high school football players — especially linemen — far outpaced those of other male children and adolescents.


Now coaches and researchers fear that some young athletes may be endangering their health in an effort to reach massive proportions and attract the attention of college recruiters…

…Another study of 650 football players in Michigan youth leagues from ages 9 to 14, published last month in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that 45 percent were overweight or obese, with the problem more prevalent among linemen, who are typically the biggest players on the team.

“That’s staggering,” said Robert M. Malina, a professor emeritus of kinesiology at Texas and the lead author of the Michigan study. “Youngsters are already being rewarded for being big and overweight before playing big-time football.”
It’s sad if you ask me, but, I don’t blame the kids. I blame the league. They must redirect the trend! Encourage teams to stress athleticism and speed and not motionless mountainous size. That’s why my favorite NFL players are guys like this:

Terrell Owens

Dallas Cowboys
Height: 6-3 Weight: 218 Age: 33


Bob Sanders

Indianapolis Colts
Height: 5-8 Weight: 206 Age: 26



Torry Holt
St. Louis Rams
Height: 6-0 Weight: 190 Age: 31


Rodney Harrison
New England Patriots
Height: 6-1 Weight: 220 Age: 34
These dudes are lean, quick, and agile. They’re not massive. They’re functionally or “deceptively strong.” That’s my fitness goal. Not to be Goliath, but rather, a fit and healthy David. Especially since, as Dr. Fuhrman points out, leaner people live longer. From Eat to Live:
In the Nurses Health Study, researchers examined the association between body mass index and overall mortality and mortality from specific causes in more than 100,000 women. After limiting the analysis to nonsmokers, it was very clear that the longest-lived women were the leanest.1 The researchers concluded that the increasingly permissive U.S. weight guidelines are unjustified and potentially harmful…


…Dr. I-Min Lee, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said her twenty-seven-year study of 19,297 men found there was no such thing as being too thin. Among men who never smoked, the lowest mortality occurred in the lightest fifth.2 Those who were in the thinnest 20 percent in the early 1960s were two and a half times less likely to have died of cardiovascular disease by 1988 than those in the heaviest fifth. Overall, the thinnest were two–thirds more likely to be alive in 1988 than the heaviest. Lee stated, “We observed a direct relationship between body weight and mortality. By that I mean that the thinnest fifth of men experienced the lowest mortality, and mortality increased progressively with heavier and heavier weight.”
Hopefully aspiring football players and the NFL awake up and put the health and longevity of athletes ahead of winning championships.
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Jayson - December 6, 2007 10:57 AM

Sometimes it seems being thin is a crime.

Ive read a couple of articles from the good doctor about athletes and their diet. Being that Dr Fuhrman was a pro skater at one time, I would be curious to know what an ideal diet would be for the professional athletic type.

Jayson - December 6, 2007 1:43 PM

Thanks for the link Gerry !

LLouise - December 6, 2007 4:30 PM

Dr. F. has had pros in his care and under his dietary care. I'm guessing these folks need a little diet tweaking, lol.

It's sad how people feed their children. All that stress to "win," too. The girls also are set up for diseases later in life as well as reaching puberty much too early.

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