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It’s Super-Caloric Sunday: Fun Facts About Super Bowl LII

February 01, 2018

Super Bowl LII is almost upon us. As family and friends prepare to gather around their screens Sunday to watch the New England Patriots face the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s a near-cinch they’ll indulge in their favorite game-day foods, share a few laughs and lament the fact that the Monday after the Super Bowl is not a recognized as a national holiday.

For the super athlete, the armchair warrior and everyone in between, we present eight super fun health facts associated with the big game:

  1. Player size has changed (and it matters): One of the biggest differences between Super Bowl I and Super Bowl LII is the size of the players. This year, the average NFL player stands 6 feet 2 and weighs almost 250 pounds. Contrast that to Super Bowl I, when the biggest football player on the world champion Green Bay Packers roster was Gale Gillingham, who was only 255 pounds. The average adult male in the United States is 5 feet 9 and 195 pounds. The United States has the highest rate of obesity in the world with more than 109 million people considered obese. When comparing that to the country’s population, more than 30 percent of people in America are overweight.
  2. Concussion is a MUCH bigger deal than ever before: Recent concussion tests have sparked nationwide conversation surrounding the connection between head injuries and contact sports, specifically football. In high schools across the country, 47 percent of all reported sports concussions are from football. Dr. Subramani Seetharama, a physiatrist and sports medicine specialist at the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute who is also the medical director of the Sports Health and Concussion Clinic programs, says parents and athletes should not get caught up in the moment when dealing with potential concussions.“I tell kids, if you have a headache, get off the field immediately,” said Dr. Seetharama. “Studies show if they continue playing, there is a 40 percent chance they will have a prolonged symptom scale and they’re going to miss school.”
  3. Sprains, strains and ACL injuries, too: Aside from concussions, there are other dangers to the body from playing football. The most common football injuries are musculoskeletal injuries, such as ligament sprains and muscle strains. Knee injuries are common in football, with most occurring in the anterior or posterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs and PCLs). Most ACL injuries in football happen on non-contact plays, usually when the foot becomes stuck on the playing surface.“Not everyone who tears their ACL will hear or feel a pop,” said Dr. Clifford Rios, orthopedic surgeon and board-certified in sports medicine at the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute. “When an ACL injury typically happens, the play goes one way and the athlete plants a foot with the knee partially flexed. Then they’ll try to turn the body away from the direction their foot is facing and push off to change direction, ultimately causing the injury.”
  4. Football players like to eat – a lot: The average person in America eats approximately 3,600 calories a day – that’s quite a bit more than the 1,800-2,200 calories a day recommended for the average adult male. Unless, of course, you are a pro football player. The average 300-pound NFL player may eat up to 9,000 calories a day.“There isn’t a ‘magic number’ to determine how many calories you should eat,” said May Harter, MS, RD, CD-N, a registered dietitian at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. “The amount of calories you should eat per day really depends on a variety of factors, including your age, gender, medical history, and how much daily physical activity you typically engage in.”
  5. Chicken wings are a BIG thing (so is pizza): This Super Bowl weekend, nearly 1.3 billion chicken wings will be consumed in the country. To give perspective, imagine a straight line of chicken wings end-to-end from Hartford to Los Angeles – 28 times over. The pizza company industry is also grateful for the biggest sporting event of the year, as many businesses will see their orders double on Super Bowl Sunday.
  6. Don’t forget the guacamole: Wings and pizza aren’t the only items on the menu on Super Bowl Sunday. More than 8 million pounds of guacamole will be consumed as well. The good news for guacamole lovers? Avocados are on the healthier side, low in saturated fat and packed with about 20 vitamins and minerals.“Avocados are loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that are good for your heart health,” says Harter. “Like any food, they are good in moderation. They can lower your cholesterol while increasing your fiber and potassium intakes.”
  7. The high-fat spread is delish — but at what price to your health?: All that delicious food can comes at a price. Antacid sales are expected to increase by roughly 20 percent on the day after the Super Bowl. And 6 percent of people in America will call in sick the day after, and not all of them are just hoping to celebrate their team’s victory for an extra day. A recent Tulane University study found evidence that Super Bowl parties help spread the flu. The study showed that between 1974 and 2009, cities with teams in the Super Bowl experienced an 18 percent increase in influenza deaths that season. Be sure to wash your hands before and after eating and don’t forget your hand sanitizers!
  8. The Super Bowl wasn’t always an evening affair: Once the big game is over and you finally climb into bed, you may realize it’s only a short while before you need to be back up and ready for work the next day. One major difference between the first Super Bowl and now is the game’s start and end times. This year’s Super Bowl is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. Factor in all the commercials and a halftime show that’s 30 minutes long (15 minutes longer than the average football game halftime), and the game can easily go past 10 p.m.  The first Super Bowl started at 1 p.m. EST (which was 10 a.m. local time in Los Angeles, where the game was held) and the game ended well before anyone’s bedtime. Though it may be tough to get enough sleep after the Super Bowl, Dr. Brett Volpe, a board-certified sleep specialist at MidState Medical Center’s Sleep Care Center, stresses the importance of getting back on a regular sleep schedule for the rest of the week and staying away from caffeine when possible. “A lot of people don’t realize that caffeine has a half-life of 12-16 hours,” said Dr. Volpe. “High-caffeine foods and drinks we take in the morning can potentially affect our sleeping that night, especially in younger adults and children. An irregular sleep schedule makes it harder for our brain and body to rest properly and it’s almost like intentionally putting yourself through jet lag.”

Depressed after your team loses? You’re not alone. Learn more here