The Epitome of Eatertainment, Continued

Why do people love to watch videos of other people eating? For one thing, there is the cheap thrill of witnessing mildly transgressive behavior and cheering it on. What some viewers admit to enjoying most is watching the mukbanger cram in huge, rude bites, caring not a whit about manners or mess. respondent Jocelyn Paz, a student of cognitive science and neuroscience, spills the beans about herself and people in her circle. Reportedly, viewing mukbang videos helps them to survive the rigors of weight-loss dieting. Such voyeurism brings a level of satisfaction, without setting up cravings.

But what about the authorities who make the accusation that mukbang encourages binge eating disorder? Paz says about that:

It’s been about 2 years since I’ve fully recovered from my eating disorder, yet I immediately knew that 4 years ago, when I was at my peak of anorexia, this would have been a regular watch for me… There’s something satisfying about these videos that make you not exactly crave the food, but rather, puts you in their shoes, which includes feeling as though you’re experiencing the same as them, sans feeling full.

The sensation of “ingestion without incorporation” is the holy grail sought by millions of dieters over several decades. In this context, “incorporation” has nothing to do with business or taxes. The corpus, in the original Latin, is the body. To incorporate is to literally take something in and make it part of the body. Food and drink, for instance.

People want to be able to ingest, to revel in the entire process of eating food, without incorporating it in the form of extra body fat. Everyone wants all the good smells, tastes, and sensations associated with the consumption of favorite foods. Nobody wants negative results. This can be a tricky area, where it is pitifully easy for people to kid themselves.

Should we have seen?

Despite all the editorializing that is done over the mukbang culture, some health care specialists wonder where, in these debates, any real concern about obesity might reside. Originally, no one connected the trend with the danger of promoting eating disorders. Then, a couple of years back, health officials in South Korea began to suspect that mukbang could be problematic, and government regulation was discussed. But even among experts, opinion is divided. There is ambivalence. The mukbang culture is called a double-edged sword. Of course, a case can be made against it. But how valid???

Some insist that binge-eating disorder (BED) is a psychological illness that a person either has, or does not have, and no amount of mukbang viewing can make a difference to their psyche or influence their behavior, one way or the other. Of course, the first question that comes to mind about that is, “If so, still, we are talking about adults. Maybe children are different. Does anyone really know what watching this stuff can do to kids’ minds?”

Some say that a person with BED is no more attracted to watching mukbang videos than a heroin addict would be to smoking a joint. And then, someone else comes along and suggests that, for a recovering eating disorder patient who was otherwise doing fine, watching these videos could trigger a relapse. The next Childhood Obesity News post will dive more deeply into these matters.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Do you think that eating shows, like Mukbang, encourage binge eating disorder?,”, 11/02/18
Image by Photo and Share CC/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


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
TEC and UNC 2016

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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