Obesity Rates Soar Among Professional Baseball Players

Michelle Wolff
By: Michelle Wolff

Americans started playing baseball in their backyards in the mid-1800s, leading to it eventually becoming one of America’s most favored sports. We often refer to athletes as those in optimal health, due to their strenuous day in day out training, but there’s new concerns about the health and well-being of our favorite players. New research is showing that over the past year, professional baseball player’s BMIs have gradually increased, and are currently at their highest rate. With this being said, there are many things to consider when it comes to weight gain that could potentially make it not always a bad thing. Although, according to researchers, having a BMI over 30 is not beneficial.


Some athletes in various sports, such as football have dealt with being overweight. For instance, baseball players weight didn’t start to raise concern until the early 90’s. David E. Conroy, Penn State professor of kinesiology, collected 145 years’ worth of data to analyze the height and weight changes in professional baseball players. They found that most baseball players maintained a normal BMI (18.5-24.9) up until 1991, when player’s BMI’s begin to upsurge. Since then, weight has increased gradually in players and now at least 80% of them have a BMI of over 25, causing them to fall in the overweight or obese category.

There are many factors to consider when looking at BMI, as it isn’t always the most accurate measurement. BMI does not negate between fat and muscle, therefore if someone has a lot of muscle, it is not counted for; this is a very likely cause for weight gain in athletes. With the advances we have in sports nutrition, technology and recovery, athletes are now able to train harder and better than ever, therefore increasing muscle. Another thing to consider is steroid use and how it has become very relevant in baseball. It is estimated that up to 40% of major leagues have some using steroids, and this could certainly contribute to weight gain.


This sudden increase in weight may not always result in negative findings, having extra weight may help players with certain features of the game. For example, a player that is heavier will most likely be able to hit the ball with more force, causing it to fly further. With this being said, it also goes back to what kind of weight they are putting on. If it’s mostly muscle, then it would be beneficial in the aspect that having a balanced amount of muscle helps regulate metabolism, prevent injury, and decrease one’s risk for diabetes and high blood pressure. Therefore, if the increase in BMI of the players is due to an increase in muscle, then they really have nothing to worry about, and this extra weight would actually serve as an advantage.

Since this data is observational, there is still much research that needs to be done to see not only what is causing this, but also if it is something we should actually be alarmed about. As mentioned earlier, weight does not account for everything, and some people feel better and actually perform better at a certain weight, even if it puts them in the “overweight” category on a BMI scale. As in the game itself, one could say at least for now, the players are safe.


  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160930085937.htm
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deni-carise/baseball-and-steroids-wha_b_3887380.html

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