Fans of Losing Teams Are Less Healthy

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Find yourself heading to the fridge after your favorite NFL team suffers an overtime defeat to a rival?

You’re not alone: Researchers found that fans in cities whose teams had lost games on Sunday ate 10 percent more calories the next day, including 16 percent more saturated fat. Fans in cities with a team that won actually ate less than usual: 5 percent fewer calories, and 9 percent less saturated fat, according to a study published in the journal Pyschological Science.

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To find out whether eating habits were affected by watching sporting events, the researchers had 726 people keep food diaries Sundays through Tuesdays when their local NFL team played.

Turns out that if you live in a football-crazy town, the binging was even more pronounced: In the eight cities with the most devoted fans, people consumed 28 percent more saturated fat after a defeat and 16 percent less after a victory.

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Similar research on French soccer fans produced similar results.

The good news? The researchers also found an easy fix: “After a defeat, write down what is really important to you in life. In our studies, this simple technique, called ‘self-affirmation,’ completely eliminated the effects of defeats,” Dr. Yann Cornil and Pierre Chandon of INSEAD Business School told The Telegraph.

The trick seems to work “even if you are rooting for a perennial loser,” the researchers said.

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images