TikTok star’s death sparks ‘serious health risks’ warning

Health experts warn against the alarming rise in online food competitions which see creators often eating large quantities of bizarre and harmful foods. The new trend is a cause for concern for healthcare workers and could lead to harmful health outcomes including “risk of obesity, type two diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions”, an expert warned.

The ‘mukbang’ trend – an online audiovisual broadcast in which a guest consumes various quantities of food while interacting with the audience – has become popular in many parts of the world.

But health experts are warning people of the “harmful” trend and the potentially harmful health consequences of those who do them.

Dr Gabriela Rodríguez Ruiz, a bariatric surgeon, told Express.co.uk the rise of ‘mukbangs’ and other online eating shows “present some serious health risks” and can be a problem for healthcare.

She said: “Eating large amounts of food on camera may encourage viewers to follow suit, leading to overconsumption and unhealthy diets.

“This could contribute to a higher risk of obesity, heart problems, and diabetes. The trend may also glamorize unhealthy eating habits, which can be very dangerous – especially if the streamer has a young or vulnerable audience that is susceptible to influence”.

Echoing Ms Ruiz’ comment, health advisor Dr Rosmy Barrios told Express.co.uk: “The first concern is that people are normalizing binge eating, which no healthcare professionals advocate. Plus, it’s even more challenging for doctors to educate people on what’s right because they don’t value our advice.

“Back in October 2022, I received a telemedicine appointment from a teenage girl on how she could increase her diet drastically. Upon further discussion, I realized that she wanted to create a YouTube channel and even shared a few mukbang channels with me.

“I instantly warned her of the health risks of excessive eating but she didn’t seem to care and only wanted a way to eat more.

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“As you can see, how deeply people can be influenced by the internet and this poses a big challenge to doctors. Misinformation is on the rise, which shouldn’t be the case at all”.

Experts also warn that it could trigger disordered eating patterns and negatively impact mental health.

It comes after a TikTok star, famous for eating bizarre videos and sharing the videos with his 1.8 million followers, died of a heart attack earlier this month.

Taylor LeJeune, who went by Waffler69 on TikTok, posted videos of himself eating such items as canned cheeseburgers, reindeer meat, baby food, and long-expired products such as ham canned in the 1960s.

Mr LeJeune, who was 33 when he died, had 1.8 million followers on TikTok and his videos had been viewed more than 32 million times.

His last video, posted on January 11, was of him eating a giant piece of Fruit Loops cereal dipped in milk.

Clayton Claydorm, Mr LeJuene’s brother, took to TikTok to break the news. He said: “My brother Taylor… has passed away around 10pm on January 11, 2023, from a presumed heart attack.”

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