While the 22 players on the field in each World Cup soccer game are getting the workout of their lives, it’s a far different story for those merely watching the games.
Turns out the World Cup is affecting our health in more ways than we think. Here’s how specific parts of our bodies are getting slammed during this World Cup-crazy summer:
Our Livers: Soccer fans don’t mind having another, thanks. The British government decided to extend pubs’ opening hours during the World Cup to allow citizens to watch games broadcast late in the evening due to the difference in time zones. Drinking is up.
“Research is growing around how the consumption of alcohol during previous World Cup tournaments has been associated with significant spikes in the demand for emergency medical treatment,” according to Alcohol Concern, a British charity focused on alcohol issues. “This is while the drinks industry continues to work hard to align itself with the healthy image of sport.” The organization added that assaults and domestic violence are also on the rise during the days England is playing a match.
In China, a country whose team failed for qualify for the World Cup this year, “cases involving people driving under the influence of alcohol have risen sharply [since kickoff on] June 12, as soccer fans tend to bet on their luck in eluding police checks,” China Daily reported.
The country’s Ministry of Public Security said that during soccer matches, traffic police and mobile patrols make regular checks of “restaurants, hotels, pubs, sidewalk snack booths and soccer-fan saloons for the entire night,” according to the ministry. The patrols aim to cut down on drunken driving, it said.
Our Hearts: During the 2006 World Cup held in Germany, a team of doctors found that on the days of matches involving the German team, the incidence of cardiac emergencies among German fans was higher than when the team didn’t play, especially for men, for whom the risk more than tripled.
“Viewing a stressful soccer match more than doubles the risk of an acute cardiovascular event,” the doctors concluded. “In view of this excess risk, particularly in men with known coronary heart disease, preventive measures are urgently needed.”
Our Waistlines: Research has shown that when your favorite sports team loses, your saturated-fat and food-calorie intake increases significantly – and falls when your team wins. A marketing study by the France-based business school INSEAD was initially done on American football fans, but researchers found that results were similar when they measured the food consumption of French soccer fans.
“These effects are greater in cities with the most committed fans, when the opponents are more evenly matched, and when the defeats are narrow,” according to the study.
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