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

Business Wire

PHILADELPHIA -- January 17, 2013

The Living Heart Foundation, with support from the National Football League
Players Association and Covidien (NYSE: 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

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 of  Gary 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

“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
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