You may want to be careful who you root for in NFL football.
Back a losing team and watch how much fatter you’ll get.
That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the Psychological Science Journal and led by Pierre Chandon, a professor of marketing at the business school INSEAD in France, that has been widely reported in the American press.
His study links sports outcomes to the eating behavior of fans. It finds that backers of NFL teams chow down on more food and fattier food the day after a loss. Backers of winning teams, on the other hand, eat lighter food and in moderation.
In fact, the researchers found that after a loss NFL fans’ saturated fat consumption went up by 16 percent. Meanwhile after a victory it went down by 9 percent. Overall calorie consumption increased by 10 percent after losses, and decreased by 5 percent after wins.
Chandon, who co-authored the study with Yann Cornil, said in an interview with NPR that the connection between eating and sports outcomes was off the charts in the cities where fans religiously follow the local football team, such as Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Fans in those cities eat 28 percent more saturated fat after a loss. A win swayed them to eat 16 percent less saturated fat.
“When your ego is shattered you really think about instant gratification—you want to feel better now,” Chandon said. “It’s an impact most people aren’t aware of, except that when we start pointing it out to people they laugh and say, ‘Yes, it’s true, when my team is losing I want comfort food, I want unhealthy food and the hell with that diet.’”
USA Today pointed out in its article on the study, which is titled, “From Fan to Fat? Vicarious Losing Increases Unhealthy Eating, but Self-Affirmation Is an Effective Remedy,” that this research held true not only for NFL teams, but also French soccer teams and their fans.
So you want to drop some pounds? Then drop that losing team.