Cal Snowden knows exactly how he got fat: No activity, and high calorie intake.
But the 67-year-olds tale has a back story, starting in the 10th grade, when he joined the Roosevelt High School football team. The native Washingtonian had a knack for the sport, and he kept on playing at Indiana University. His pre-med plans fell apart when he attempted to tackle organic chemistry. So instead of medical school, Snowden wound up going to the NFL.
At 225 pounds, the 6-foot-3 rookie was a smallish defensive end. I struggled to maintain even that, Snowden says, but his coaches insisted he get heavier. A beer-and-carb diet did the trick. By the time he retired in 1973 (after playing five seasons for St. Louis, Buffalo and San Diego), Snowden tipped the scales at more than 250 pounds.
These days, hes aiming for that same target only from the opposite direction. In April, he weighed 335 pounds and had borderline hypertension and prediabetes. In other words, he looked like a typical retired professional football player.
Studies have shown that NFL alumni have a much higher risk of obesity than the rest of the population. They start out bigger. And although they may enjoy exercising, lingering injuries and the shift to a sedentary daily life often prove to be a dangerous combination.