How watching sports affects eating habits and heart health

Watching the Olympic Games is inspiring and fun, but being an avid fan can influence eating habits and health, for better or worse. Check out these fascinating findings:

For starters, the outcome of a big game can influence food intake the next day. Researchers followed two seasons of Sunday Night NFL games, and looked at sales of junk food in cities whose teams were playing. They found:

  • In losing cities, sales of high-saturated fat foods rose 16% the day following a loss, compared to average Mondays.
  • In winning cities, junk food sales decreased 9% the next day.
  • The effect was stronger when the game was close.

Researchers believe that winning boosts fans’ self-control while losing fans eat to feel better. (You can read more here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/09/20/224148230/diet-of-defeat-why-football-fans-mourn-with-high-fat-food)

If that’s not wild enough, get this: Avid fans appear to have higher rates of heart-related deaths after a tough loss.

Do you remember the huge upset at Super Bowl 2008? The New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in the final minute. Want to guess what happened to rates of heart-related deaths in New York and Massachusetts the following week? You probably guessed it: Compared to the same week of the previous year, New York heart-related deaths stayed constant, while Massachusetts had a 20% spike. The researchers believe the heart-breaking Super Bowl loss was literally that: Heart-breaking. (You can read the study here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23979499/)

So this is one more reason to eat SUPER healthy snacks while you watch your favorite sporting events. …and stay physically fit if you want to be an avid fan: It’s literally not for the faint-of-heart.

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