Metabolic syndrome involves a cluster of clinical symptoms that include excess fat in the abdominal area, borderline or high blood pressure, cholesterol problems that foster plaque buildup in arteries, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance indicating the body can't properly use insulin or blood sugar and the presence of a blood protein indicating inflammation.
Lead author Jackie Buell, director of sports nutrition at Ohio State University, said based on the study results, standard health screening for these risk factors might be a good idea for all collegiate football players.
The study, published in the Journal of Athletic Training, found nearly half of a sample of 70 collegiate offensive and defensive linemen had metabolic syndrome -- meaning the players had at least three of five risk factors that indicate a person has higher chances of developing heart disease and diabetes than those without the risk factors.
If a male athlete's waist measurements and blood pressure exceed a 40-inch waist and a blood pressure reading higher than 130 over 85 -- he ideally should undergo a blood test to see if high cholesterol, glucose and triglyceride levels, too, indicate that he might benefit from health guidance to prevent chronic disease down the road, Buell said.
"We assume this doesn't happen in a young person," Buell said. "We all assume they don't have these health risks because they're athletes."