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Heavy hitters: Obesity rate soars among professional baseball players

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Heavy hitters: Obesity rate soars among professional baseball players

Major League Baseball players have become overwhelmingly overweight and obese during the last quarter century, say health researchers.

David E. Conroy, Penn State professor of kinesiology, and colleagues looked at 145 years of data on professional baseball players’ body mass. The researchers found that the athletes’ weight held steady for over 100 years, with the majority of them weighing in at what is considered “normal,” – i.e., with a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.

However, around 1991 the average player’s BMI began to rise, and over the last 25 years nearly 80 percent of players fall into the overweight or obese category with a BMI above 25. Obesity in the general U.S. population began to rise in the mid-1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Research exists that shows how having extra weight can help with certain aspects of baseball,” said Conroy, also professor of human development and family studies. “The more force a batter can put into the ball, the further it will travel.”