Outliers knows it's tough to see your favorite NFL team lose again and again. Turns out it's not just bad for your morale to be a fan of teams like the hapless Detroit Lions, it's bad for your waistline—and your neighbors' waistlines, too.
A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that on the Monday after an NFL game, residents of cities with losing teams ate 16% more saturated fat than usual. And the trend held true even for people who aren't football fans.
In contrast, if you like the New England Patriots, chances are come Monday morning, you eat 9% less saturated fat as you celebrate the latest victory and increasing odds of another Super Bowl appearance.
Researchers at the INSEAD Business School looked at food consumption in more than two dozen cities, using metro areas without NFL teams or those whose teams had a bye week as controls.
And they found that cities with losing teams didn't just load up on wings, beer and chips during the game—but continued to seek out comfort foods even the following day. The effect was especially pronounced when a game came down to the final seconds.
And it even held true when the researchers asked French participants to complete a writing task where they were asked to describe a time when their favorite teams either won or lost. Those who wrote about winning were more likely to later opt for a healthy snack, while those who recalled defeat reached for chips or candy.
The researchers hypothesized that a team's defeat is a blow to one's identity, and turning to comfort food is a coping mechanism. In contrast, being on the winning end boosts self-control.
They recommended “self-affirmation” to counter the effect—or remembering that there's more to life than field goals and touchdowns.
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