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Tailgating Effects on Health

Heath effects of tailgating are nothing to cheer about.

Tailgating health effects

A beloved weekend ritual for millions of sports fans, tailgating has become a socially acceptable excuse to wash down piles of greasy food with copious amounts of booze. This stadium parking gluttony must extract a toll on the body, right?

Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine set out to score some answers.  They examined the effects of an afternoon of heavy tailgating on a group of 18 overweight but generally healthy men. Specifically, the study authors looked at blood tests, liver scans and a measure of energy expenditure to see how each man’s liver and metabolism reacted to excess intakes of alcohol—participants drank enough during a 5-hour period to maintain a 0.08–0.10 blood alcohol level—and high-calorie grub, including hamburgers, cupcakes and chips. On average, each man consumed a whopping 5,087 calories during the 5 hours.

Essentially, the results suggest that different bodies react in different ways to an afternoon of excess. Some men showed higher levels of fat in their liver, while others displayed lower liver-fat levels after tailgating—meaning some bodies may respond in a unique way to take stress off the liver. Those who ate the most processed carbs during the study tended to have higher liver-fat levels and lower rates of fat-burning. This suggests carbs may affect these measures more than alcohol does.

In the big picture, the findings advance the idea that genetics can play a role in health outcomes associated with going overboard on food and alcohol on any given Sunday.

See also: Sports Teams Go To Bat For Junk Food


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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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