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Study shows future weight-related problems in young football players

A new study on bulking up presents a warning for younger football players. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A new study on bulking up presents a warning for younger football players.

It's not uncommon for high school football players to want to add weight to be more effective on the field, but sports medicine specialists at OrthoCincy say what's good in high school, might not be so good later in life.

There's nothing like those Friday night lights: the excitement of the games, the thrill of the competition and those winning moves. But if weight gain, or bulking up, is required, Dr. Todd Grime says a new study has a word of caution.

"This actually looked at gaining weight intentionally at a younger age and how it can affect you down the road -- that there can be ramifications that aren't always taken into consideration when someone gains weight at a younger age," said Dr. Grime.

Those ramifications in athletes, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Medicine, aren't just the injuries seen in by Dr. Grime's team in the office, such as joint problems or bone breaks due to extra stress.

Instead, this study found that football players who gained weight between the end of high school playing days and the end of college playing days or a professional career were at an increased risk of several major health problems, including heart disease, sleep apnea, brain or cognitive impairment and metabolic concerns, such as diabetes.

"You know, unfortunately, that's part of our society now: If a little bit is good, a lot is better. And that's not necessarily the case," said Dr. Grime.

To find this out, researchers looked at 3,500 football players who played pro-football later in life. They found by the time they were only about 50 years old for every 10 pounds gained since the early years of playing, heart disease risk increased nearly 15 percent.

It's often also hard to turn bulk eating habits around when you are not as active.

"Gaining weight in high school or college doesn't necessarily have to be a permanent thing. If we're just counseling them that there are ramifications down the road when your playing days are over, that getting down to a healthy weight is something that you're going to want to think about," Dr. Grime said.

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