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Heavy tackles and 300-pound nose guards are common in pro and college football. Now a study shows the trend toward beefier, overweight linemen is emerging at the high school level.
Researchers at Iowa State University found nearly half of the offensive and defensive linemen playing on Iowa high school teams qualify as overweight, and one in 10 meet medical standards for severe obesity.
For years at the pro and college level, teams have sought bigger, stronger linemen who are harder to budge.
Players have responded by adding weight and muscle mass, making the 300-pound lineman fairly common, sports medical experts said.
Recently, however, the National Football League and players have taken greater note of health risks for heavy athletes because of two high-profile NFL player deaths and a 2005 study, which concluded that 56 percent of NFL players fit medical standards for obesity.
The study's researchers began by gathering height and weight data of 3,686 varsity linemen available from rosters from all classes of Iowa high school football teams.
They used that data to calculate a body-mass index, the same tool used for the NFL study.
Of the players analyzed, 28 percent were deemed at risk of being overweight and 45 percent fit the standards for being overweight, including 9 percent who met adult severe obesity standards.