Screening for insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk in collegiate football linemen

Clin J Sport Med. 2011 May;21(3):233-6. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31821a61f8.


Objective: To investigate the relationship between fitness, obesity, and the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in obese-classified [by body mass index (BMI) > 30 kg/m] collegiate football linemen and male students of similar age and BMI.

Design: Cross-sectional observational study.

Setting: Institutional university based.

Participants: Two groups of volunteer students. Thirty collegiate football linemen and 10 sedentary age-matched and size-matched peers.

Independent variable: Status as lineman or sedentary student.

Main outcome measures: Height, weight, blood pressure, and body fat percent (BF%) were measured for each subject. Fasting blood draw was used to determine glucose, insulin, cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides.

Results: The athlete group had lower mean (SD) BF% [21.8 (3.89) vs control 27.1 (7.07); P = 0.01], despite no significant difference in age, weight, height, or BMI. The athlete group had lower systolic blood pressure [135.6 (13.29) mm Hg vs 148.1 (13.77); P = 0.015] and at-risk LDL (10% vs 40%; P = 0.05). The groups did not differ significantly in other measures. Body fat percent (before and after adjusting for BMI) was significantly correlated with every risk factor except glucose, whereas BMI was only significantly correlated with blood pressure and insulin.

Conclusions: Collegiate football linemen with elevated BMI have select risk factors, particularly blood pressure and LDL cholesterol that improved over sedentary peers. However, concerning risk factor profiles of linemen warrant standard age-appropriate and size-appropriate screening for cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Body fat percent more strongly correlated with risk factors than with BMI and may be the stronger tool for estimating risk in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Blood Glucose / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cholesterol / physiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / physiology
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / physiology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Triglycerides / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol