Retired NFL football players are at an increased risk for Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). Cross sectional studies in high school and college football players suggest an increased risk even at this level. It is not clear when MetS risk factors (RF) develop and if certain markers can be used to assess risk for early intervention. PURPOSE: The purpose of this pilot study was to identify MetS risk factors using the NCEP ATP III standards and measures of abdominal obesity in freshmen football players from a Division 1FCS and a Division 3 team. Additionally, this study sought to identify if risk differed by player position and/or by college division. METHODS: Fifty freshmen (Division 1, n = 18, Division 3, n = 32) football players volunteered to be tested before the start of the competitive season. Testing for MetS risk factors included fasting Triglyceride (TG), High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), blood glucose (BG), blood pressure (BP), suprailiac waist circumference (SuprWC), and umbilical waist circumference (UmbWC). Additional measures included percent body fat (%BF) and subcutaneous (SCAT) and visceral fat (VAT) depth. Descriptive statistics and comparison between schools related to MetS RF were analyzed in SPSS (v24). A Pearson Correlation and a Stepwise Multiple Regression were used to determine the relationship between the clinical markers. RESULTS: Ten players (20%) met the criteria for MetS (n = 2 with 3 RF, n = 6 with 4 RF, and n = 2 with 5 RF). Division 1 had a higher percentage of players (n = 5, 27.8%, 3 offensive linemen) meeting the criteria for MetS compared to the Division 3 players (n = 5, 15.6%, 1 offensive lineman). All NCEP ATP III risk factors except BG were positively correlated with meeting the criteria for MetS, with the SuprWC being the highest (r = 0.766, p = 0.000). Using non NCEP ATP III risk factors positive correlations were found between the %BF (r = 0.645, p = 0.000), SCAT (r = 0.352, p = 0.013), and VAT (r = 0.489, p = 0.000). Lineman meeting the criteria for MetS had a %BF > 21. Five variables (SuprWC, TG, HDL, BG, and VAT) were statistically significant in predicting MetS (F (10, 34) = 16.201, p = .000, R² = .827). The stepwise multiple regression reported that SuprWC accounted for the greatest variance on the MetS prediction (F (1, 43) = 80.712, p = .000, R² = .652), followed by TG (F (1, 42) = 12.594, p = .001, R² = .733). CONCLUSIONS: This data suggests that freshmen football players have a high incidence of MetS RF. Waist circumference, specifically at the suprailiac location, TG, and %BF should be included in preseason evaluation with follow up for early intervention as necessary. This study opens the discussion of including the unstandardized SuprWC measurement as a NCEP ATP III component of MetS.

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