Impact of Football-Related Weight Gain
March 19, 2019
Thanks to the thousands of former players who completed our First Health and Wellness Questionnaire (Q1), we are gaining a clearer picture of your health. Below are early research results on the potential consequences of football-related weight gain, along with action steps you and your peers might take to be proactive about your health.
What the Science Says
Our research indicates that former players who experienced substantial weight gain between high school football and professional play may be at a higher risk for later-life disease. Specifically, we found that:
- Every 10 pounds of weight gained between college football and professional play increases the risk of sleep apnea by 25%, heart disease by 14%, neurocognitive impairment by 13%, and cardiometabolic conditions by 11%.*
- Every 10 pounds of weight gained between high school and college football raises the risk of sleep apnea by 15% and chronic pain and cardiometabolic conditions by 9%.*
- Former players gained an average of 40 lbs. between high school football and present day, with the majority of weight gained during the football playing years.
*Heart disease refers to heart attack, stroke, or heart surgery, while cardiometabolic conditions represents high cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood sugar. Neurocognitive impairment refers to a diagnosis of dementia or memory loss.
While past research has demonstrated the consequences of post-career weight gain, this is the first study to show that play-related weight gain may be harmful to former players, regardless of the player’s present-day weight.
Potential Action Steps
If you’ve experienced substantial weight gain over the course of your football career:
- Talk with your doctor about getting a comprehensive work-up that includes assessments of your heart, sleep, brain, and metabolic health. This will help you to identify those areas of your health most in need of attention.
- Work with your doctor to address any conditions that are treatable. Treating even just one problem, such as sleep apnea, may lead to significant improvements across many areas of your health and better your overall quality of life.
- Be proactive about managing those areas of health that screenings or your medical history indicate should be a priority for you. Early intervention is one of the best ways to head off problems before they start.
Below is a list of external resources that may assist you in being proactive about your overall health:
- The TRUST: Brain and Body Assessment
- Cleveland Clinic: Five Smart Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- The TRUST’s Medical/Wellness Tips
If you have questions about the information above or would like to learn more about the Study, please call us (617.432.5000) or email us.