Prevalence of obesity in adult population of former college rowers

John W. O'Kane, Carol C. Teitz, Santana M. Fontana, Bonnie K. Lind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The prevalence of adolescent and adult obesity in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate. This study examined the prevalence of obesity in adults aged 20 through 60 years, comparing established national norms with a selected population of former college rowers. Methods: Selected for study were 4,680 male and female former intercollegiate rowing athletes who graduated in 1928 through 1998. The participants were surveyed regarding duration of rowing career and training methods, current and college height and weight, and questions regarding lifetime episodes of back pain. After two mailings, 2,165 (46%) questionnaires were returned. Our study data were compared with national cross-sectional survey data obtained through the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey III (NHANES III). Results: Male and female former rowers had a significantly lower prevalence of obesity than the general population both in college and through their lifetime (P < .001). For rowers of both sexes, there was a trend of slightly higher body mass index (BMI) in each older age-group (P < .001). Conclusions: Former collegiate rowers were less obese than the general population. BMI increases with age, and encouraging athleticism for those who are of college age and younger might be an effective method to decrease adult obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-456
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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