Living Heart Foundation Launches HOPE Program for Former NFL Players

Living Heart Foundation Launches HOPE Program for Former NFL Players

Comprehensive study and educational program promotes healthy lifestyles and weight-management for retired professional football players

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Living Heart Foundation, with support from the National Football League Players Association and Covidien (NYS: COV) , today announced the launch of the HOPE (Heart, Obesity, Prevention & Education) Program for former National Football League (NFL) players. The HOPE Program is a comprehensive obesity research initiative designed to promote healthy lifestyles and weight-management among former professional football players. These former players, when compared to smaller-sized men, are more likely to have cardiovascular problems and other health issues associated with being overweight.

The weight management initiative is an extension of the existing Living Heart Foundation programs that are aimed at promoting health services to specific groups that have been traditionally overlooked - including high school, college and professional athletes, as well as underserved populations.

"When a player's athletic career ends, the level of exercise is reduced dramatically while caloric intake often remains high, and this could lead to obesity, along with other serious co-morbidities," said Andre Collins, Director of Former Player Services of the NFL Players Association. "The HOPE Program provides former players with a team environment that encourages participants to adopt healthier lifestyle choices. Adverse health conditions due to obesity in former NFL players can be corrected with healthy diet, exercise and weight loss."

The HOPE Program was launched in October 2012 at Temple University Hospital, under the leadership ofGary Foster, PhD,Director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University School of Medicine.

"Through feedback generated during focus groups with former NFL players, we found that these men are primarily motivated to make lifestyle and fitness improvements for personal well-being and to benefit their families," Dr. Foster said. "HOPE Program participants are generally competitive, determined individuals who view this program as an opportunity to motivate one another and achieve their weight-loss goals together."

To enter the HOPE Program, former NFL players in the Philadelphia area were invited to undergo a comprehensive health screening performed by physicians associated with Temple University Hospital and the Living Heart Foundation. The initial consultation assessed baseline weight and overall cardiovascular health, and included testing for many of the conditions associated with being overweight and obese, including type 2 diabetes.

Participants are asked to track their food intake, exercise and weight-loss during the 6- month program. Participants attend 18 group sessions that focus on skills and strategies for successful weight management. At the conclusion of the study, players who did not reach their target health and weight-loss goals will be counseled on potentially pursuing additional medical treatments, including bariatric surgery.

The screenings and follow-up programming at Temple are being conducted under approval of hospital's institutional review board.

Henry Buchwald, MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery at the University of Minnesota, will take on the directorial role for the bariatric surgery component of the HOPE program. Other medical centers will be joining the program as it advances.

"More than two thirds of adult Americans are obese or overweight, representing a burden of approximately $160 billion annually to the healthcare system," noted Arthur J. Roberts, MD,retired cardiac surgeon, former NFL Quarterback and Founder of the Living Heart Foundation. "Obesity and its underlying conditions play a significant role in the declining health of retired NFL players. The Living Heart Foundation is committed to screening, educating and empowering HOPE participants with a mission to improve the early identification of health risks in these former elite athletes and promoting healthier lifestyles among the general public."

"Covidien is dedicated to the wellness and education of patients and strives to enable HOPE participants to achieve optimal, long-term results," said Michael Tarnoff, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Covidien. "We are committed to clinical research, discoveries and advances that will help patients resolve medical conditions that often accompany obesity. In addition to combating obesity with bariatric surgery, a combination of healthy diet and exercise is also required to achieve long-lasting weight loss success."


The Living Heart Foundation (LHF) is a nonprofit organization under IRS 501 (c) (3) code. The LHF was initially funded by a grant from the Edison Foundation. Subsequently, Funding sources and donations have been obtained from companies like Covidien, Pfizer, Meridian Health System, Siemens, NFL Player Care Foundation, NFL Players Association Fund and from individual sources. The LHF was established by Arthur J. Roberts, MD in April 2001 to combat sudden cardiac death and to provide cardiovascular risk stratification with early preventive intervention for cardiac, pulmonary, and metabolic conditions through on-site screening and integrated follow-up health programs. The LHF has published 10 peer review papers related to CV risk in college students & athletes, as well as former NFL athletes.


The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is a non-profit, professional sports union that protects the best interests and welfare of all NFL players. It serves as the exclusive bargaining agent for all NFL players in collective bargaining. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players' interests. The NFLPA is governed by a Board of Player Representatives, acting in accordance with the NFLPA Constitution and federal labor laws. The NFLPA's responsibilities include: Representing all players in matters concerning wages, hours and working conditions and protecting their rights as professional football players; ensuring that the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are met; negotiating and monitoring retirement and insurance benefits; providing other member services and activities; providing assistance to charitable and community organizations; enhancing and defending the image of players and their profession, on and off the field. For more information, visit


Temple University Health System (TUHS) is a $1.4 billion academic health system dedicated to providing access to quality patient care and supporting excellence in medical education and research. The Health System consists of Temple University Hospital (TUH), ranked among the "Best Hospitals" in the region by U.S. News & World Report; TUH-Episcopal Campus; TUH-Northeastern Campus; Fox Chase Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center; Jeanes Hospital; Temple Transport Team, a ground and air-ambulance company; and Temple Physicians, Inc., a network of community-based specialty and primary-care physician practices. TUHS is affiliated with Temple University School of Medicine.


Covidien is a leading global healthcare products company that creates innovative medical solutions for better patient outcomes and delivers value through clinical leadership and excellence. Covidien manufactures, distributes and services a diverse range of industry-leading product lines in three segments: Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies. With 2012 revenue of $11.9 billion, Covidien has 43,000 employees worldwide in 70 countries, and its products are sold in over 140 countries. Please visit to learn more about our business.

Living Heart Foundation
Erich Sandoval, 917-497-2867
Lazar Partners
NFL Players Association
Andre Collins
Temple University Hospital
Rebecca Harmon, 315-707-8229
John Jordan, 508-452-4891

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Pennsylvania


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