Why Sensationalizing Binge Eating Hurts Everyone
Another great and insightful piece by our friends at Castlewood Treatment Centers! Just in time for… ANYTIME you need additional insight on BED 😉
Eating disorders are commonplace, more so than you might realize: More than 4 percent of Americans struggle with some form of eating disorder, and of those clinically diagnosed disorders, the most common of all is binge eating.
Binge eating is really no laughing matter. Eating disorders are psychological conditions that have less to do with food than with a distorted sense of the self; often, they are tied to intense feelings of shame, anxiety, and guilt.
So why is it that, in so many cultures, binge eating is not properly understood as a ravaging and ruinous health condition with dark psychological roots—but instead is viewed as something almost glamorous?
Broadcast Binge Eating
For a case in point, look no further than to the culture in South Korea, where thousands of viewers tune in to an online broadcast platform just to watch people binge eat, in what can only be described as a perverted hybrid of reality TV and competitive athletics.
At Afreeca TV, more than 5,000 “eaters” have signed on to gorge themselves night after night, binging their way through dinner all while spectators look on.
“Fans watch to eat vicariously through me,” says one eater—inadvertently showing just how much this site sensationalizes the truly troubling trend of binge eating.
Though these eaters can get paid thousands of dollars each week for their radical eating habits, researchers have found that it’s not just a matter of money, nor even of entertainment: More than anything else, these binge eating broadcasts provide a form of connection in a culture that’s increasingly lonely and disconnected.
Not Just a Korean Problem
Of course, it’s easy to shun a practice as obviously ridiculous as broadcast binge eating. The grim reality, though, is that binge eating is sensationalized in more ways than one—and not just in Korea. In fact, it’s something that’s all too common right here in the United States.
Examples of this abound. Perhaps you have seen advertisements for the diet pills and supplements that allow you to “eat as much as you want” without gaining weight. This is not a healthy approach to nutrition, of course, and undermines the true severity of binge eating.
More than anything, it suggests that the only problem with binge eating is that it leads to weight gain. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Again, the ramifications are numerous and not just physical. Binge eating can have huge financial implications for the sufferer as well as intensify self-hate, shame and depression. Some of the most dangerous physical ramifications can be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and gallbladder disease.
Of additional concern are the traumas to self-esteem and self-image. Binge eating is linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression. And many people with binge eating disorders express shame and guilt over their eating behaviors—so much so that they are less likely to seek help, admit it to a professional, or have it noticed by family or friends.
This is all concerning, of course, just like any major mental or physical illness—and not something that we can afford to sensationalize.