Are there any health concerns with super bowl parties?

Food Obstruction and the Super bowl

What did a recent study show about food obstruction?

  • The University of Florida recently presented a new study showing that people who overeat during national sporting events such as the Super Bowl are more likely to end up in the emergency room.
  • The study was collected over 11 years.
  • Food impaction is more common during large holidays and sporting events.
  • Men are more affected than women.
  • Large serving size, drinking alcohol and eating quickly all were associated with increased risk factors for food impaction.
  • “We think the main message here is for people to be aware and not to, for lack of a better term, overindulge,” said Dr. Asim Shuja, a gastroenterologist at UF Health Jacksonville.
  • She also stated, “Not only the amount of food you’re eating during the holiday or event, but the size of the portion you’re eating can have a tremendous impact.”
  • Reference

Why may the risk of food impaction increase during parties?

Standing-People at a party tend to stand and eat finger foods, you are less likely to use a knife and cut the food into smaller bites.

Drinking less fluids-When you are standing you usually hold your plate with one hand and eat with the other

Distraction-If you are watching the game or talking to people, you are not thinking about what you are eating.

Drinking can also decrease your awareness. You are less likely to pay attention to what you are eating.

Foreign bodies are another concern at a party or get together


From my own experience, I would suggest watching out for tooth picks. Many years ago when I was on call, we took a patient to the operating room who had abdominal pain and free air in the abdomen (a surgical emergency). We found a tooth pick sticking out of the intestines.

The patient later said, “I was wondering what happened to that toothpick”

Playing quarters

  • Yes, the fun drinking game of quarters. Another frequent cause for esophageal impaction, swallowing the quarter.
  • If a college student comes into the emergency room with pain in the chest after swallowing a quarter and the quarter is evident on a chest x-ray, you should have a pretty good idea of how that quarter got there.

Who is at risk factor for food impaction

  • People who are drinking and eating too much at one time.
  • People who are eating fish  or chicken with bones
  • People who have a structural disease such as a stricture.
  • People with diseases of the esophagus such as eosinophilic esophagitis.
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis is an irritation of the esophagus that may cause solid food to become stuck in the esophagus.

Treatment if food impaction

Medications to help with food impaction

  • Glucagons  may help loosen the blockage
  • “Patients present to the emergency room with food impactions or foreign bodies, due to the suggestion in the radiologic literature that glucagons occasionally help the foreign body or food impaction to spontaneously pass by relaxing the esophagus.”
  • Reference Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2007 Feb; 3(2): 85–86. Food Bolus Impaction Gregory G. Ginsberg, MD


  • An upper endoscopy is needed for food impaction  and foreign bodies that do not clear the esophagus and stomach on their own
  • In the cast of sharp foreign bodies, surgery may be needed if the esophagus or intestines are perforated.
  • A chest computed tomography scan may help determine whether the esophagus, stomach or intestines are perforated.

What are you planning on eating at Super Bowl?




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