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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Heavy tackles and 300-pound nose guards are common in pro and college football. Now a study shows the trend toward beefier, overweight linemen is emerging at the high school level. Researchers at Iowa State University found nearly half of the offensive and defensive linemen playing on Iowa high school teams qualify as overweight, and one in 10 meet medical standards for severe obesity. "These are 15- and 16-year-old boys that have a weight and body-mass ?? that as they enter adulthood puts many at a very adverse health condition," said Dr. Joe Eisenmann, co-author of the study and a professor in pediatric exercise physiology at Iowa State . For years at the pro and college level, teams have sought bigger, stronger linemen who are harder to budge. Players have responded by adding weight and muscle mass, making the 300-pound lineman fairly common, sports medical experts said. Recently, however, the National Football League and players have taken greater note of health risks for heavy athletes because of two high-profile NFL player deaths and a 2005 study, which concluded that 56 percent of NFL players fit medical standards for obesity. The size, bulk and ever-widening girth of the pros apparently has not gone unnoticed by those dreaming of one day playing at the next level. "Sure I look at college players and pro players a lot and size them up," said Chad Wilson, a junior who started at center last season for Iowa City West High School . He wants to add at least another 20 pounds before next season. Pressure to get bigger, stronger, heavier may come from parents and coaches, but there is also a desire from within, players said.

 
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