An 11-year study has found that people are 10 times more likely to need an emergency procedure on the esophagus during or just after a national sporting event such as the Super Bowl and other national holidays.

The study researchers – from UF Health Jacksonville – analyzed data from 2001 to 2012 from the emergency room at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. They looked at the number of esophagus procedures within 3 days of a holiday or sporting event, and then assessed the number for a control period of 2 weeks before and after the event.

Results showed that 38 people had emergency esophagus procedures during the holiday/event, with 37% of these due to food impaction from overeating. The control period meanwhile had 81 procedures with just 4% being due to food impaction.  

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“Though the sample size was small, it’s clear that a pattern emerged showing a higher percentage of people seeking treatment during or just after the event,” Dr. Asim Shuja, lead researcher said. “A much greater percentage during those times needed help because food was impacted in their esophagus. It’s a very serious problem that people need to be aware of.”

The most common foods instigating the emergency room visits were turkey (50%), chicken (29%), and beef (21%). “We think the main message here is for people to be aware and not to, for lack of a better term, overindulge,” Shuja said.

The holiday that was found to correlate with the most cases was Thanksgiving, with a higher incidence of men being affected. Possible risk factors may include serving size, the speed at which a person eats, and alcohol consumption.

For more information visit ufl.ed.