The Epitome of Eatertainment

The first order of business here is to apologize for an earlier post, which asserted that a certain type of human does not exist. That was a misstatement. Further research uncovered the fact some mukbang stars are indeed obese — and even morbidly obese. But their activities seem to extend into a territory inhabited by fetishists known as “feeders,” and we are not going to cross the border and follow them there.

By and large, most mukbangers are of reasonable weight, and multitudes of fans love to join forums where they can speculate about what magical techniques or weird birth defects prevent the pros from blimping up. Do they vomit and/or use laxatives to flush the food out of their systems? Are they blessed with some type of hereditary privilege? Do they spend every off-camera minute working out? Do they fast for days before each challenge? Is digestion somehow prevented? Is it hyperthyroidism or hypermetabolism, or a tapeworm? Is it all editing tricks?

Researchers Mattias Strand and Sanna Aila Gustafsson found that some fans

[…] engage in highly unrealistic hypothesizing about unnamed rare medical conditions in which a person’s stomach is said to expand to the extreme to allow for the ingestion of excessive amounts of food (the numbers six or even 66 times that of a normal-sized ventricle is frequently mentioned, apparently inspired by a pseudo-medical television piece aired on a Japanese eating show).

Quora correspondent Ken Morgan wrote of celebrity mukbanger Yuka Kinoshita:

She said that she has a problem with her gut. Because of this problem she can only absorb about 5-10% of the calories she eats. As a child she ate like normal but felt hungry all the time because she couldn’t absorb it all so you see her eat 10,000 calories she’s only digesting and absorbing about 500-1000 of those calories.

But, leaving the video performers aside for a moment, what do the millions of viewers get out of this strange preoccupation? Some say that watching people pig out is so repulsive, it makes them lose their appetite, which is the positive effect they are looking for. Others enjoy watching the spectacle of greedy feeding, and at the same time pride themselves on their real-life abstemiousness. For some, these extreme videos reduce the guilt connected with their own eating.

Some need the vicarious experience to “normalize” eating and turn meals into happy occasions instead of fraught ones. If a person has self-limited to only a certain class of foods, like plants, watching a mukbanger enjoy a vegan feast can put them in touch with the joyousness that is available to them. Some people, against all odds, like to watch mukbangs when they are fasting.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Mukbang and Disordered Eating: A Netnographic Analysis of Online Eating Broadcasts,” Springer.com, 04/10/20
Source: “How do people in Mukbang videos stay thin despite eating thousands of calories?,” Quora.com, 09/04/18
Image by Indi Samarajiva/CC BY 2.0

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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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