Why There Is HOPE For The NFL

sharma-obesity-footballA sad consequence of professional athleticism are the many health hazards associated with competitive sports.

This also applies to US National Football League (NFL) players, particularly to linesmen, who have a markedly increased risk for excessive weight gain with all the metabolic and physical health consequences commonly seen in obese individuals.

This is now of so great a concern, that the US Living Heart Foundation has created the Heart, Obesity, Education, Prevention (HOPE) program dedicated to screening former National Football League (NFL) players for health, in particular cardiovascular health, problems.

As described by George Buchwald, in an article published in SOARD, the mission of HOPE is two fold:

(1) Screening of former NFL players focused on obesity and the obesity comorbidities with referral of selected players on a voluntary basis to a regional center of excellence for further assessment and therapy.

(2) Recruiting successfully managed players as emissaries to the general public to discuss the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of obesity and the obesity comorbidities.

Buchwald is particularly enthusiastic about the latter, as professional athletes have hero status and command the attention of the public – this could be a natural conduit for health messages.

The LIFE HOPE program also offers treatments to NFL players for their obesity, including diet, exercise, behavior modification, pharmaceuticals, and metabolic/bariatric surgery.

Of note, the program is a partnership between the NFL, the Living Heart Foundation and Covidien, a leading maker of devices for bariatric surgery.

Whether or not this approach to recruiting (former) elite athletes with obesity to promote health messages (including promoting bariatric surgery) bears fruit remains to be seen.

I wonder what you think about this initiative.

Edmonton, AB