Disappointed sports fans more likely to eat junk food
For the study, researchers analyzed the types of food eaten by NFL fans every Monday for two seasons, in more than two dozen cities. For two controls, they also analyzed the food consumption in people living in cities without an NFL team, or a team that did not play on that day. Results showed that fans ate 16 percent more saturated fat when their football team lost the game, when compared to their normal Monday eating habits. Fans who watched their team win ate 9 percent less saturated fat, compared to their normal Monday eating. In addition, they found that the trend was most prominent when the game came down to the wire. They even found that the same trends applied to people who were not football fans.
In further research, they asked a group of French soccer fans to write about a time their team won or lost. Then they were asked to describe what kind of food they would prefer to eat based on those outcomes. Those who wrote about their team losing chose to eat junk food, such as chips and candy, while those who wrote about winning chose healthy foods, such as grapes and tomatoes.
Researchers conclude that sports fans feel a threat to their identity when their team loses, which causes them to use food as a coping mechanism. Fans who have a winning team experience a boost in self-control. Researchers say self-affirmation techniques can help sports fans eliminate the effects of defeat.