Excluding Thanksgiving, Americans eat more on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year, according to the American Institute of Food Distribution. Former NFL lineman Jamie Dukes says the amount of food consumed, coupled with inactivity, makes Super Bowl Sunday one unhealthy celebration.
Dukes, who will be covering Sunday’s game between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts for the NFL Network, is on a personal mission to help former NFL players and football fans eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight.
When Dukes played for the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals, the offensive lineman weighed around 290 pounds; he surged to nearly 400 after retirement in 1996. Along with the extra weight, which put him at risk for diabetes and heart disease, Dukes had high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
But he got a real wake-up call when former teammates with weight problems like his began to die.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had five teammates that have died in their 40s with obesity-related issues,” Dukes says. “I just can’t imagine allowing my diet and exerciseand my weight for that matterto keep me from being with my family.”
Dukes tried dieting and exercising, but after many failed attempts, he opted for gastric band surgery in 2008. His surgery used a REALIZE Adjustable Gastric Band, a saline-filled silicone ring that wraps around the top of the stomach, shrinking its size. Dukes says the band helps him feel fuller sooner and for a longer period of time. Since the surgery, he’s lost more than 90 pounds and adopted better eating and exercise habits.
“For me it was finding something that I could sustain and finding a tool that would help me sustain the weight loss,” Dukes says. “My whole vision in this equation is to help raise the awareness that says it’s OK to look at alternative solutions. You’ve got to find a way to get something done.”
Now Dukes, 45, is preparing to cover his fourth Super Bowl. He’s working with the NFL Network and NFL Alumni Association to spread the word about the dangers of obesity to retired NFL players. And he’s got some advice for overweight Super Bowl fans planning to gorge themselves on buffalo wings and potato chips come Sunday.