Scientists reveal one fan-favourite food is perfect for ‘calming anxiety’ | UK | News

It’s good news for anxious footie fans – after scientists revealed pizza can reduce nervousness during a game.

While enduring a compilation of nerve-wracking football moments, Pitch Side podcast host, Theo Baker, had his blood pressure and heartrate monitored.

His Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) – a test which determined his emotional state – was also closely checked.

Without pizza Theo’s levels were up and down, spiking several times – however they were consistently lower once he started to smell a pizza bubbling away in the oven.

And his feelings of calmness were maintained once he finally got to enjoy a slice of the stuffed crust salt and pepper chicken pizza.

Professor Oli Buckley, from the University of East Anglia, who worked on the study with the UK’s number one selling frozen pizza brand, Chicago Town, said: “Pizza and football go hand-in-hand.

“And it seems this has a scientific reason following our experiment.

“The study shows that from GSR, heart rate and the blood pressure measurements that reduces the physiological markers of arousal and stress.

“Assessing Theo’s reactions in the two conditions, one without the pizza and one with pizza, showed that with the combined data that cooking and eating frozen pizza has a notable calming effect.”

The scientific experiment follows a study of 2,000 football fans, which found 92 per cent find aspects of watching the game stressful.

Top of the list is penalty shootouts (37 per cent), followed by waiting for the final whistle to blow when narrowly leading a game (23 per cent), and VAR decisions (22 per cent).

They also find their side missing an ‘easy’ goal (15 per cent), giving away a goal ‘too easily’, and pushing for an equaliser or winner when it’s nearly full-time (13 per cent) challenging.

When it comes to what’s more nervy – club football or international , 40 per cent find club the most challenging, and 19 per cent find watching their international the most trying.

Although 34 per cent find both equally difficult.

And the nerves tend to start during the build-up to a game for 35 per cent – especially

a match of some significance.

All of which begs the question – ‘why do they put themselves through it?’ – and 31 per cent admit they ask themselves that very question.

Theo Baker, who played in last Sunday’s Soccer Aid match at Stamford Bridge, said: “Football is, by far, the thing that brings on the most nerves for me in life.

“So when I had the opportunity to see if getting stuck in to my favourite food could help with that in any way… I jumped at it.

“I knew cooking a pizza at home straight away eliminates any takeout stress of not knowing what I’ll get or when, but I didn’t expect even the smell of it cooking to make such an impact.

“‘Net’ outcome? Whack a pizza in the oven, sit back and let the guys on the pitch take care of the rest!”

It also emerged 29 per cent admit if their team loses it put them in a bad mood ‘for days’ after the game.

Perhaps as a result, 73 per cent employ coping techniques – although these are mainly used when watching a match.

They include sitting on the edge of their seat (22 per cent) and taking deep breaths (16 per cent).

The study, carried out through OnePoll, also identified – what those polled – consider to be the positive effects of the smell of a pizza while it’s cooking.

Around four in 10 (42 per cent) said it generated a feeling of comfort, while 28 per cent said it boosts their mood.

And 17 per cent said it feels them with an excited sense of anticipation.

Rachel Bradshaw, spokesperson for Chicago Town, which has launched a competition on its Instagram account [https://www.instagram.com/chicagotown_uk/] hoping to help ‘calm fans’ nerves’, said: “We understand football is a nerve-wracking passion for many fans.

“So we wanted to prove that food, in particular pizza, would help make the experience a bit more enjoyable and we knew partnering with a footie fan like Theo would give us the most honest results.”



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