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INTRODUCTION: Football teams are comprised of a variety of body types dependent on position. For instance, for blocking purposes, linemen tend to be heavier. Other positions such as running backs are more agile and require speed (skilled position). Some football players such as linemen may be overweight or obese and are at elevated risk of metabolic syndrome (METs). The metabolic health of college football players is important to consider for the purpose of tailoring their training regimen and eating habits to maintain healthy lifestyles, rather than just to perform well in their sport. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between the offensive line, defensive line, and skilled positions and metabolic health status in Division III first year players. Effective methods for assessing risk of metabolic syndrome were also investigated. METHODS: The following data was collected: Body Mass Index (BMI), percent body fat, cholesterol levels, fasting glucose, blood pressures, and umbilical and suprailiac circumferences. Subjects were coded into three categories by the position they played (offensive line, defensive line, skilled). Metabolic data was evaluated in terms of position and relationships were examined via correlation. RESULTS: The study included 33 male first-year football players. There were three offensive linemen, five defensive linemen, and 25 skilled players. Four players met the criteria for METs (12%, 3 linemen, 1 skilled). The mean weight for the offensive line was higher than the defensive line and skilled positions (122.55 kg, 107.19 kg, and 84.50 kg respectively, [F2, 33= 18.1, p < 0.05]). There were also significant differences between groups for BMI, suprailiac and umbilical circumferences (F2, 32 = 11.0, F2, 32 = 18.9, F2, 32 = 7.2, p < 0.05, respectively). On Post-Hoc analysis, BMI and suprailiac circumference differences were found between all three groups (p < 0.05). For umbilical circumferences, differences were only found between the offensive line and skilled players (p < 0.05). Suprailiac circumference was positively correlated (p < 0.05) with BMI (r =0 .91), % body fat (r = 0.69), triglycerides (r = 0.43) and systolic blood pressure (r = 0.53) and negatively correlated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (r = -0.44). CONCLUSION: The study suggests that first year football players are at risk for METs, with linemen having the highest risk. The suprailiac circumference is related to the highest number of METs indicators. Division III football teams should consider using the suprailiac circumference as a measurement for pre-season health evaluations to identify high risk players.

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