A majority of professional baseball players are overweight, new study finds

Around 1991, the average body mass index for Major League Baseball players began to rise after holding steady for more than a century. Currently, a majority of players fall into the overweight or obese category, according to a new study published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice.

For the study, researchers examined 145 years of publicly available data pertaining to the body mass of professional baseball players. For more than 100 years, the average BMI of an MLB player was between 18.5 and 24.9. In the modern major league, close to 80 percent of players have a BMI above 25.

"Research exists that shows how having extra weight can help with certain aspects of baseball," said lead study author David E. Conroy, PhD, professor of kinesiology at Penn State University in State College, Pa. "The more force a batter can put into the ball, the further it will travel."

The rise in BMI among major leaguers coincides with the steroid era and advances in sports medicine, suggesting a good portion of the weight gain is likely attributable to increased muscle mass. The data provided in this study is observational, but the authors argued it is deserving of further inquiry.

"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," wrote the researchers.

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