Saturday, June 5, 2010

Our Sport Heros Make US Fat

Americans like football, and football players are big men. In America, it is good to be big, even if its big in circumference rather than height.

In soccer loving countries, most of the men weight less, is that because their childhood heros were thinner?
Soccer MVP Landon Donovan - 158 lbs
I have made list of MVPs of different sports, and the soccer player is the skinniest.

Player Sport Height Weight BMI
Payton Maning NFL Football 6'5" 230 27.3
Joe Mauer AL Baseball 6'5" 230 27.3
Albert Pujols NL Baseball 6'3" 230 28.7
LeBron James NBA Basketball 6'8" 250 27.5
Landon Donovan USMLS Soccer 5'8" 158 24
Tiger Woods Golf 6'1" 185 24.4

NBA MVP Lebron James
250 lbs

Observations: First athletes are muscular, and that makes them heavier than non-athletes. All elite athletes are lean, but not thin. They often have high BMIs.

American athletic heros are all over 6'3" which is over 95% for height, and three are 6'5" which is probably 99%, but I have trouble finding data. These sports heroes don't look like the fans. Maybe that is why they are heroic. Nonetheless, the men and boys who spend the weekend watching them on TV, can't hope to compare.

Women talk about "body image," when they discuss whether girls can look like fashion models or pin-up models. Men don't discuss that, but I think that norming behavior is there anyway, changing the way boys and young men think about how they should look.

There is a guy at work who used to play football in college; I am sure he was muscular and strong when he played. He is no less big today. He told me once that he felt weak when he lost weight, but he is 300 lbs. 

Payton Manning 230 lb and Tiger Woods 185lb

Albert Pujols 230 lbs

Everyone knows Americans weigh more than people in other, more soccer loving countries.

It would be interesting if golf or tennis became as popular as football, baseball or basketball. Would guys gradually get thinner.

The following table illustrates how Americans are heavier than two soccer loving countries. Surprisingly, it was hard to find better data than this.

Country/Region↓Average male weight↓Average female weight↓Sample population /
age range↓
Chile75.6 kg (166.7 lb)65.7 kg (144.8 lb)17 and overMeasured2003[1]
Germany82.4 kg (181.7 lb)67.5 kg (148.8 lb)18 and overMeasured2005[2]
United States86.6 kg (190.9 lb)74.4 kg (164.0 lb)20-74Measured1999–2002[3]

I want to close with fictional heros. Clearly Japanese Animie heros are skinner than Superman and Batman. 

 Skinny Japanese hero

Big American superhero:

I would love to get a few comments on this.