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What Is Mukbang and What You Need to Know About It

New health and food trends come and go constantly, with some sticking in today's society while others die down. With social media connecting people from across the world, circulating trends are noticed with just a few clicks of the mouse pad or touches of the phone - and media has transformed "mukbang" into a trending reality. So what exactly is this mukbang trend individuals are tuning into watch and speaking of? Let's find out!


What Is Mukbang?

Also known as "muek-bang," the term originates from two Korean words meaning "eating" (meokneun) and "broadcast" (bangsong), combined to describe an "eating broadcast." Originating and mostly in South Korea culture, hundreds and thousands of people tune into watch so-called "broadcast junkies" devour large plates and portions of meals. Starting years ago in 2011, the trend continues to grow in popularity via live streaming, with viewers even financially supporting some of the eaters. Viewers may even provide enough income to the eaters to act as a full-time job, contributing thousands of dollars just to watch Koreans eat mass quantities of food. So should or shouldn't you be watching this growing food trend?

Why (Not) Watch Mukbang?

Watching mukbang is primarily up to viewer's discretion and primarily advised related to...

...the promotion of overeating.
After watching some of the clips, there is not much question that the "broadcast junkies" are overindulging on packs of ramen noodles, fried chicken, and the list further goes on. This ultimately rises the concern on whether or not they are promoting overeating or simply aiming to grab the attention of its viewers. But nonetheless, massive portions of foods are consumed and keeps viewers tuning back in.

...encouraging poor eating habits.
Research suggests it takes, on average, 21 days to form a habit. So if consistently gorging on high volumes of food, we must wonder if poor eating forms are likely to form. Glamorizing high portions may not only accelerate large meal plates, but rising the intake of poorer nutrition choices.

All discouragements aside, watching mukbang may break the stigma of avoiding "bad" foods and empower individuals to feel comfortable in their skin, especially as the trend spreads its way to the States. It is critical, though, to realize the potential health consequences that may arise if deciding to consume large meal portions as well.

But those who watch feel involved in a large social connection, ultimately the primary rational of consistently viewing mukbang and its broadcast junkies. And though viewers are miles apart, tuning in forms a unique unity from the comfort of their own social media account and devices. Mukbang resurfaces a critical health piece many forget about: shared meals. Whether it be with friends, family, neighbors, or anyone that sits next to you at the dinner table, meals consumed with others is a lost art. The slip of communal meals can be related to busy schedules, living alone, or any other life circumstances and situations. Individuals who tune into the Korean trend consistently mention the following theme: feeling a sense of community around eating.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on August 30, 2017. Updated on October 04, 2017.


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