Objective: To estimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity among participants in youth American football 9 to 14 years of age.
Study design: Cross-sectional, 653 boys, 8.7 to 14.6 years. Height and weight were measured; body mass index (BMI) was calculated. Overweight and obesity were defined by international (International Obesity Task Force [IOTF]) and United States (Centers for Disease Control [CDC]) criteria. Prevalence and 95% confidence interval were calculated. Player age, height, and weight and midparent height were used to predict mature height; current height was expressed as a percentage of predicted mature height as an estimate of maturity status.
Results: Overall 45.0% (41.2% to 48.9%) and 42.6% (38.8% to 46.5%) of players were overweight or obese by CDC and IOTF criteria, respectively. Prevalence was highest in early maturing boys. Based on position-activity at time of injury (n = 180), overweight and obesity were more common among offensive and defensive linemen.
Conclusion: Overweight and obesity were more prevalent in youth football players than in national samples of American boys. Allowing for limitations of the BMI and the relative stability of the BMI from adolescence into adulthood, a relatively large number of football participants may be at risk for later overweight or obesity, and the risk appears to be greater for offensive and defensive line positions.