Professional athletes provide high-profile role models of health and human performance. Increased body mass can be adaptive for human performance but also presents a health threat. This paper examines 145 years of data on body mass in 17,918 male professional baseball players in the United States at the time of their professional debut. Both height and weight at debut have increased over time. Controlling for age at debut, players debuting in the current decade were significantly more likely to be overweight or obese than at any time in history. The prevalence of overweight and obesity increased to approximately 70% and 10%, respectively, while normal weight prevalence decreased from approximately 60% to 20% during that time. The causes of these changes over the past 25 years are not clear although they coincide with the steroid era. These trends warrant further attention because of the potential for adverse long-term health consequences in this population and those who perceive them as role models for health and human performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics