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Study: Losing sports teams make us reach for the saturated fats

Wednesday - 8/28/2013, 6:03am  ET

pizza.jpg
Pizza may be a coping mechanism for a losing sports team, research shows. (WTOP file)

WASHINGTON - A losing football team may be to blame for that spare tire around the waist.

New research has some not-so-surprising findings about how sports fans cope with a team that doesn't win.

The study published in the journal Psychological Science focused on 24 cities. They examined what people ate on typical Mondays and then on Mondays after a game.

Researchers found that saturated fat consumption increased 16 percent on the Monday after a game in cities where the team lost. But in cities where the team won, saturated fat consumption decreased 9 percent.

The study found saturated-fat and food-calorie intake increase significantly in cities with losing teams, and decrease in cities with winning teams. Also, intake remained at usual levels for subjects in cities without an NFL team or with an NFL team that did not play, according to the study.

The same researchers took the study to France where subjects were asked to write about an experience involving their favorite soccer teams. All were given snacks later. Those who wrote about a losing experience almost always chose candy and soda while those who wrote about a winning experience chose fruit.

The researchers said they believe that when a favorite team loses, fans feel an identity threat and use food as a coping mechanism. On the other hand, when a favorite team wins, there's a boost to their self-control.

WTOP's Alan Etter contributed to this report.

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