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An overweight man eats potato chips while watching television. (PhotoDisc)
An overweight man eats potato chips while watching television. (PhotoDisc)

Watching big game affects well-being Add to ...

The Super Bowl is not just a football game, it is a celebration of excess - particularly excessive consumption of food and alcohol.

During next Sunday's game, and the day-long run-up to the kick-off, Americans - and to a lesser extent Canadians - will guzzle beer by the gallon and consume chicken wings, guacamole, salsa and corn chips by the tonne.

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So it is no surprise that researchers have taken some interest in the health consequences.

New research shows a spike in cardiac deaths in the post-game period, particularly among fans of the losing team.

An earlier study, conducted by Dr. Donald Redelmeier of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, showed that the most dangerous aspect of Super Bowl festivities is the drive home.

His research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the chances of having a motor vehicle collision jump 41 per cent in the four hours after the game. The main factor is people driving while intoxicated, but fatigue and inattention also plays a part.

The research also showed that the rate of crashes was far higher - up to 150 per cent - in cities of the losing Super Bowl team.

"People should avoid night driving on Super Bowl Sunday," Dr. Redelmeier said bluntly.

Thomas Joiner, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, studied suicides during Super Bowl weekend and found there was actually a slight decrease.

He believes that the social connections people make - and many people watch the Super Bowl in large groups - can negate suicidal tendencies, at least temporarily.

Finally, one of the most-reported health stories related to the Super Bowl is that there is a surge in reports of domestic violence on game day.

That is, however, an urban myth. The notion that there is a stampede to women's shelters during "drinking holidays" such as Super Bowl weekend and New Year's Eve has been studied repeatedly and found not to be true.

Follow on Twitter: @picardonhealth

 

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