Matchday Calories: The Biggest Comfort Eaters In Sport

Mark Fordham
By Mark Fordham
 |  7 mins
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Matchday Calories: The Biggest Comfort Eaters In Sport

For many, sport is an immeasurably huge part of everyday life, with a shared interest in the same team often the foundation of friendships and the latest club, player, or fixture news forming the central focus of many conversations whether at work or the bar. But can the weekend’s results go as far as to impact your diet?

According to a 2013 study ‘From fan to fat’, a team’s performance has a huge impact on the overall game day calorie consumption of fans, with those on the losing side comfort-eating 10% more than the national average – and celebratory supporters consuming 5% fewer.

Taking this one step further, we’ve been able to determine the healthiest and unhealthiest teams to follow across the English Premier League, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAAB, NCAAF, CFL, and AFL, according to the average calorie consumption of each team’s supporters over the last five years.

Premier League

Most Calories Consumed

When it comes to comparing comfort eaters in the Premier League, there’s no looking past Burnley fans as the biggest over-indulgers. With the worst league record over the last five years, supporters have turned to food on match days to combat heartache and consumed 3.19% more calories than the average Brit.

Next up, despite the recent high-profile takeover which has positioned them as the richest club in world sport, Newcastle United’s league form over the last five seasons has seen them come dangerously close to relegation. As a result, fans have struggled to hold back on the over-eating, stress-consuming 3.16% more calories than usual.

Meanwhile, the three soccer fanbases that join them as the five biggest overeaters are Brighton and Hove Albion (+2.88%), Southampton (+2.86%), and Crystal Palace (+2.78%).

Fewest Calories Consumed

On the flipside, the Premier League team that’s too busy tasting success for its fans to indulge in comfort snacks is Liverpool, with supporters consuming 2.41% less calories on a matchday than the average Brit.

Joining them at the top of the table, we have Manchester City, who are the only team to register 100+ wins over the last five years – a period that’s also seen them claim the Premier League title three times. As a result of the on-field dominance, City supporters eat 2.29% less calories than the UK average.

Rounding out the top five, we have 2020-21 Champions League winner Chelsea (-0.34%), as well as Manchester United (-0.31%) and Arsenal (+0.53%).

NFL

Most Calories Consumed

When it comes to the NFL, no team’s fans consume more calories on game day than those of the New York Jets – 5.82% more than the typical American, in fact, thanks to their terrible record over the last five seasons.

Trailing closely, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ poor performances over the same period have also led supporters to turn to comfort eating as consolation, consuming 5.5% more food. Completing the NFL’s top five over-eating fanbases, we have the New York Giants (+4.95%), Cleveland Browns (+4.75%), and Detroit Lions (+4.44%).

Fewest Calories Consumed

Recent league success, particularly over the last few seasons in reaching back-to-back Super Bowls after a 50-year absence, has seen fans of the Kansas City Chiefs enjoy the taste of victory more than most. And consuming 1.01% fewer calories than the average American, Chiefs supporters also enjoy the healthiest game days in the US!

Meanwhile, the New England Patriots might not have reached the Super Bowl since 2018, but their fans are still among the most used to winning football matches, and as such are the second healthiest in the NFL (-0.42%). Ranking third to fifth, respectively, we have the New Orleans Saints (+0.19%), Green Bay Packers (+0.48%), and Pittsburgh Steelers (+0.49%).

MLB

Most Calories Consumed

With the worst record in the entirety of MLB, fans of the Baltimore Orioles are revealed to be the biggest over-eaters, consuming more matchday calories than those of any other team and 4.11% more than the average American.

Following the Detroit Tigers is almost as bad for your health, though, with supporters also among the unhealthiest in the league (+3.75%). Completing the top five, the Orioles and Tigers are joined by the Miami Marlins (+3.54%), Kansas City Royals (+3.48%), and Pittsburgh Pirates (+3.36%).

Fewest Calories Consumed

At the other end of the table, Los Angeles Dodgers fans consume the fewest calories on game day (+0.73%), thanks to their strong record over the last five years, followed by those of the Houston Astros (+1.08%) and 27-time World Series winner the New York Yankees (+1.36%).

Meanwhile, Boston Red Sox supporters are also among the league’s healthiest, alongside fans of the Cleveland Indians – each fanbase consumers just 1.49% more calories than the average person on game day.

NBA

Most Calories Consumed

With the worst record of all NBA teams over the last five seasons, Orlando Magic fans have endured defeat more than any other set of supporters, causing them to consume 4.63% more calories than usual.

Fans of the New York Knicks aren’t much better off, however, and place a close second with a 4.42% calorie increase when watching their team. Next up, we have the Detroit Pistons (+4.21%), whose supporters are the third unhealthiest on game day, followed by the Chicago Bulls (+3.98%) and Sacramento Kings (+3.93%).

Fewest Calories Consumed

Winning back-to-back NBA Championships in 2017-2018, and placing second in 2019, fans of the Golden State Warriors are used to high-achievement, which has led to supporters consuming less calories on game day than any other fanbase – just 0.34% more than the typical American.

Placing second, Milwaukee Bucks supporters enjoyed Championship success for the first time in 50 years in 2021, contributing to fans eating just 0.62% more than usual, while the Toronto Raptors (+0.77%), Utah Jazz, and Boston Celtics (+1.05%) place third to fifth, respectively.

NHL

Most Calories Consumed

Recording more losses over the last five years than any other hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings is officially the unhealthiest NHL team to watch, with fans consuming 4.7% more comfort calories than normal to get through the constant disappointment.

With an increase of 4.5%, Buffalo Sabres supporters aren’t much better, though, while the Ottawa Senators (+4.0%), New Jersey Devils (+3.9%), and Arizona Coyotes (+3.8%) complete the top five toughest teams to follow.

Fewest Calories Consumed

Over the last five years, Tampa Bay Lightning supporters have enjoyed the taste of game day victory more times than any other NHL fanbase, ensuring they top the table as the healthiest team to follow with a calorie intake just 0.4% higher than the typical American.

Placing second, Washington Capitals fans eat 0.7% more on a matchday than usual, while those of the Vegas Golden Knights, Boston Bruins, and Pittsburgh Penguins consume 1.1%, 1.1%, and 1.2% more, respectively.

NCAAB

Most Calories Consumed

With 358 colleges competing in the NCAAB, it’s interesting to see the incredible extremes when it comes to supporter calorie consumption compared to other leagues. And with the most losses over the last five seasons of any NCAAB team, it’s fans of Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils who consume the most – 7.95% more than the national average. Incidentally, this is the highest increase of ANY fanbase across each of our nine recorded leagues.

Also eating at least 7% more than the typical American, we have supporters of the Chicago State Cougars (+7.86%), Alabama A&M Bulldogs (+7.27%), and Delaware State Hornets (+7.13%), while those of Maine Black Bears see an increase of 6.79%.

Fewest Calories Consumed

At the other end of the spectrum, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have maintained fine form over the last five years, with fans needing little reason to turn to comfort food as consolation after a disappointing game day. This has led to supporters consuming less food than any other fanbase, and 3.78% fewer calories than the typical American.

Also featuring in the top five, fans of Kansas Jayhawks (-2.09%), New Mexico State Aggies (-2.05%), 2018 March Madness victors Villanova Wildcats (-2.05%), and Houston Cougars (-2.02%) each intake around 2.05% less calories than the national average.

NCAAF

Most Calories Consumed

Similarly to NCAAB, following college football can see supporter calorie consumption hit serious highs, with fans of Kansas Jayhawks the unhealthiest across NCAAF. A poor record over the last five years has forced fans to turn to food to cope with the disappointment – 7.61% more than the average American, in fact.

Also ranking highly for supporter calorie intake, we have the Connecticut Huskies (+7.50%), followed by U Mass Minutemen (+7.19%), Texas State Bobcats (+6.67%), and Rice Owls (+6.59%).

Fewest Calories Consumed

In contrast, the best NCAAF team to support for your health is Alabama Crimson Tide, whose fans consume 3.76% fewer calories than the average American, followed closely by the Clemson Tigers (-3.39%) and Ohio State Buckeyes (-3.22%). Rounding out the top five, we also have the Oklahoma Sooners (-2.72%) and Georgia Bulldogs (-2.22%).

CFL

Most Calories Consumed

Analyzing CFL performances over the last five seasons, no team has lost more games of football than the Toronto Argonauts. Despite historic success and holding the record for most Grey Cup wins in history (17), Argonauts supporters have been starved of celebration in recent years, which has led them to consume more game day calories than any other fanbase (+4.6% more than usual).

Following closely, though, we have fans of Montreal Alouettes (+4.4%) and Ottawa Redblacks (+4.0%), while those of the BC Lions (+3.4%) and Edmonton Elks (+2.7%) are also among the CFL’s unhealthiest.

Fewest Calories Consumed

At the other end of the table, meanwhile, the Calgary Stampeders (-0.9%) are revealed to be the easiest football team in Canada to watch, and the only CFL fanbase to eat less calories on game day than through the week. Ranking second, we have the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (+0.4%), followed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders (+1.4%) and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (+2.3%) who place third and fourth, respectively.

AFL

Most Calories Consumed

Of all the teams competing in the AFL, none have a worse record over the last five years than the Sydney Swans, forcing fans to comfort-consume more calories than any other set of supporters – and 4.9% more than the average Australian.

St Kilda supporters (+4.6%) aren’t far behind, though, while those of the Western Bulldogs (+4.4%), North Melbourne (+4.2%), and West Coast Eagles (+4.1%) all also indulge at least 4% more on game day than the rest of Australia.

Fewest Calories Consumed

When it comes to supporter consumption, no AFL fanbase intakes fewer calories on game day than that of the Brisbane Lions. In fact, they’re the only team in the league whose followers eat less than the typical Australian (-1.1%). Meanwhile, Geelong Cats fans sit comfortably in line with the national average, ranking above those of Collingwood (+0.9%), Essendon (+1.3%), and Adelaide Crows (+1.6%).

It’s incredible to see just how big an impact following a team can have on your lifestyle, and how celebration or disappointment can influence the amount of food you eat in a day. For even more expert insight, check out the latest sporting news or discover the most popular betting offers from our trusted partners.

Methodology

To determine which sporting fanbases consume the most match day calories, we utilized the findings from a 2013 academic paper: From Fan to Fat, Cornil and Chandon. The study concludes that after a loss, fans eat 10% more calories than usual. However, after a win, fans consume 5% fewer calories than usual. Based on these findings, win/loss records for the last five years were recorded for each team in the English Premier League, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAAB, NCAAF, CFL, and AFL.

We then established the average daily calorie intake for a typical American adult (3,600kcals), which we multiplied by the number of games played by each individual team. For the Premier League, CFL, and AFL, this was altered to account for the average daily calorie consumption in the UK, Canada, and Australia, respectively.

For example, New York Jets:

The Jets have played 92 games in the last five years, so 92 x 3,600 = 349,200 average game day calories. Understanding that losing equates to a 10% increase per game and winning equates to a 5% decrease per game, we readjusted the total for each team to reveal each fanbases total game day calorie consumption.

For example, New York Jets:

The Jets have won 27 times (3,420 x 27 = 92,340) and lost 70 times (3,960 x 70 = 277,200). Combined, New York Jets fan has consumed game day 369,540 calories over the last five years. We then subtracted the ‘average game day calories’ from the ‘[Jets] game day calories’ to uncover the difference.

For example, New York Jets:

369,540 – 349,200 = 20,340 additional calories consumed, which is 5.82% above average.

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Mark spent over a decade as a sports reporter and editor with Goal.com and Bleacher Report. He is now a Content Editor at Bookmakers.com covering all manner of sports from the Premier League and cricket to the NBA and NFL.

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