It seems that there may be more than a grain of truth in the old wives’ tale that eating before swimming is dangerous.
The authors state that previous studies had revealed little evidence of a link between eating before going swimming and the risk of drowning.
The scientists from the Tokyo Women’s Medical University gathered data on 536 autopsies between April 2000 and December 2007 and found that 79.4% of those who had drowned accidentally had been eating recently, compared to just 43.1% of those who had committed suicide by drowning.
Of course, it might be argued that having a hearty meal may not have been uppermost in the thoughts of those wishing to commit suicide, but the researchers say that they identified a definite link between food intake and drowning risk.
However, further studies are still required to determine by just how much food raises the risk and how long one should fast before swimming.
The authors believe that asphyxiation from inhaled vomited stomach contents is one probable cause of accidental drowning.
Another possibility is that when blood is diverted to the intestine during digestion it causes circulation problems when swimming which may, in turn, reduce blood flow to the brain resulting in loss of consciousness.
Source: Medicine, Science and the Law