People Magazine, November 10 issue, has an interesting piece on the problem of high school football and obesity.
As reporter Amy Elisa Keith explains, some kids see football as their ticket to college scholarships. And they see rapid, execessive weight gain as a necessary step in the process. So with the tacit approval, and sometimes the encouragement, of coaches and parents, they pack on the pounds.
She writes, "Today the average NFL lineman is nearly 30 pounds heavier than 20 years ago. And as the bigger-is-better mentality has trickled down to youth leagues, the average lineman in a top high school program now weighs in at a hefty 232 pounds with coaches and parents encouraging teenage boys to engage in extreme eating so they can adapt to this new body standard."
There have been several recent studies on this subject, all raising the question: why aren't adults pushing children away from the table?
In 2007, a study of more 3,600 high school linemen in Iowa discovered that 45 per cent were too heavy and nine per cent of those obese. That compares with 18 per cent of male children and adolescents judged overweight in the general population. In Michigan, another study of 653 youth players (ages 9 to 14) found that 45 per cent were overweight or obese.
"Being big is encouraged, because you need that weight on the field," one high school coach tells People. "But we as coaches don't look at the ramifications of gaining 70 pounds in four years on the health of a teenager."
Much is made of how youth sports are safer with adults around to supervise, inspect and protect. Here is an example of just the opposite.