For football fans, it is the holy grail of games. For others, the commercials, half-time show and the parties are the big attractions. But, for everyone watching the Super Bowl, whether they admit it in advance, the four hours of football are an annual food fest, at which most eat or drink a whole day’s calories or more during the broadcast.
The Super Bowl game is an annual excuse to binge on copious amounts of snack foods, pizza, chips, beer and more over the four hours. Yes, there is usually a tray of crudité at parties. But, odds are it is wedged between types of chips. According to experts (and shopping records), the calories consumed on Super Bowl Sunday even surpass Thanksgiving, which is also a holiday that is often celebrated by eating and watching football. The other similarity between these rituals is that lead people to consume way more calories than they normally would.
While watching all the commercials, commentary, singing, posturing and passing, Super Bowl telecast viewers eat an average of 2,400 calories during the game, according to researchers at Cornell University. The Cornell team found the average American will down more than 6,000 calories over the whole Super Bowl day. That is three times the recommended calorie content that an adult should consume per day!
The Cornell research team did not start out looking at Super Bowl dining and drinking for their study. They were actually tracking grocery-spending habits for 200 households over a seven-month period. The study was intended to figure out by purchasing trends, including each serving size and calories purchased for each member of the household. When evaluating the data to see when people start giving up on any New Year’s Resolutions related to diet, they stumbled across the change in spending and eating behavior related to the Super Bowl.
The research team used the calories per serving for each item purchased during the course of each week in their study. That showed unusual periods when the households bought more food or unhealthy things. Realistically, some food may go wasted or be split among many people, including guests. It also does not take into account pizzas delivered (an estimated 11 million slices are eaten Super Bowl Sunday), food brought by guests or any foods or drinks from outside the home.
Using the data, they pinpointed time periods when people bought more food. They estimated that the average shopping bill jumped $150 for the big game. That led them to determine the impact the Super Bowl has on American diets and the startlingly high number of calories that appear to be consumed on game day.
Besides the need to burn off the calories the next day, there are other residual effects of the four hours of gorging on Super Bowl game day. As reported in the Daily Mail, 13 million pounds of poop will be flushed during the game (that food has to go somewhere besides waistlines). Another statistics shows a 20 percent increase in antacid sales the day after the game for dietary hangovers. Lastly, a 2013 study in Psychological Science indicated that, on the day after a big football game, fans who cheered for the losing team ate 16 percent more saturated fat than they normally did.
By Dyanne Weiss