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NEWS REPORT


The new study shows that ardent sports fans are likely to seek comfort from eating unhealthy foods when their team loses


Supporting a losing team deemed ‘bad for health’


REPORT REVEALS LINK BETWEEN UNHEALTHY FOODS AND FANS OF LOSING TEAMS T


the team’s just lost its ninth game on the trot, the manager’s got the sack and the star player wants to leave. It feels as though


things can’t get any worse for long- suffering supporters who’ve invested financially and emotionally in their team. But, apparently it can – a new report sug- gests that fans of hopeless clubs might also be risking their physical health in the process of following their team. “People eat better when their football


team wins – and worse when it loses,” says Pierre Chandon, marketing professor for French business school INSEAD, which conducted a study on fan behaviour. “Supporters whose team lose unexpect- edly, by a narrow margin or against a


Issue 2 2013 © cybertrek 2013


team of equal strength, are particularly in danger of binging on unhealthy com- fort food such as burgers and pizzas.” The claims come from a study –


conducted by Chandon and INSEAD colleague Yann Cornill – into the habits of football fans in the US over a period of two years. The results – published in the August edition of Psychological Science journal – show that fans feel a threat to their identity after a defeat and use comfort eating as a coping mechanism. The effects of supporting a winning team seem to be opposite – victories boost fans’ self-control, at least when it comes to eating habits. The INSEAD researchers asked 726 football fans to keep a diary on their


food intake on Sundays, when their local team had an NFL game, as well as track their calorie intake on the following two days. In total, the research covered a to- tal of 475 games involving 30 teams over the two-year period. On the Monday af- ter a game, people whose team had lost ate on average 16 per cent more satu- rated fat and gained 10 per cent more calories from their food than they did on a normal Monday. Those whose team had won on Sunday ate nine per cent less saturated fat and consumed five per cent fewer calories than usual. Speaking to Sports Management, Cor-


nill said the link between disappointed fans and unhealthy foods was a new one. “Although prior studies had shown that


Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital 19


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