There seems to be an everlasting obsession with eating contests: wieners, sauerkraut, pickles, devilled eggs, and pies, they all have a turn at being devoured in a matter of minutes. I’ve always been fascinated about this concept, especially when thinking about how these Guiness Book of World Record seekers rehearse for their big race, how they handle the stress of overeating in a short amount of time, thereby overriding satiety and various other cues, and what the aftermath of such an extreme act on the body might resemble. I searched in the scientific literature in hopes of finding some research on these questions, but few scientists find this topic area as intriguing as I do. Having very little information to go on, I will try to hypothesize what might be occurring in the bodies of those who engage in eating contests of any kind:
1) Overeating without attention to satiety cues may lead to an attenuation of these cues, thereby resulting in frequent overeating episodes and leading to excess weight gain over time. Obesity can lead to insulin resistance and problems in glucose metabolism, as well as cardiac complications and other health conditions such as sleep apnea, arthritis, and high blood pressure
2) Overeating of one type of food on a frequent basis (for the purpose of rehearsals) may lead to nutrient deficiencies as contest food displaces other food choices in the diet
3) In instances where contest food is a fluid, over-drinking may lead water intoxication or to a condition referred to as hyponatremia (low blood sodium), which in some instances can be lethal (recall the incident with the lady who drank so much water for a free Nintendo system, and died later that day from this condition) as well as other electrolyte imbalances
4) Overeating hot dogs or pies which have a significant fat content may lead to fatty liver, which if untreated, can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of liver tissue)
6) Overeating, which constitutes a high glycemic load, results in a spikes of insulin release, a response which may over time be exhausted, possibly leading to impaired glucose metabolism
I say to all those thrill seekers out there, who use food as their vehicle for setting records: quit while you are ahead.