Last July 4, Joey Chestnut ate nearly 17 pounds of hot dogs and buns in only 10 minutes.

Debate photos courtesy of families; (background); zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx/AP Images (Joey Chestnut)

Should Eating Competitions Be Banned?

Ten! Nine! Eight! . . . As the crowd counted down last July 4, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut continued shoving hot dogs into his mouth. When the clock ran out, Chestnut had won the 2021 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island in New York City. He had broken his own world record, wolfing down 76 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes. 

Each year, countless people watch contests like this one, in which competitors eat everything from piles of chicken wings to tubs of baked beans. Most fans see these events as fun and harmless entertainment. They point out that speed eaters, like athletes, spend a lot of time training, so they know what their bodies can safely handle. 

However, many nutrition experts find the idea of speed-eating contests hard to swallow. They argue that having competitors stuff their faces with food promotes unhealthy eating habits. Other people say these competitions are wasteful, especially when so many Americans don’t have enough to eat. 

Here’s what two of our readers think.

Sure, eating competitions can be entertaining, but they can also cause serious health problems for the contestants. Eating too much too fast can stretch out your stomach, so you can’t digest your food properly. Some competitors have eaten so fast that they’ve ended up choking. 

These competitions also make overeating seem like fun, which sets a bad example for kids. Plus, competitors waste a lot of food. When they don’t finish everything on their plates, the leftovers may get thrown out and end up in a landfill.

Eating competitions are entertaining. Banning them isn’t necessary because people aren’t forced to compete. They choose to do it for fun or prize money. Like athletes, they train intensively and develop strategies to win. For example, many competitors dip their food in water, making it easier to swallow. 

Some competitors prepare by eating healthy foods and exercising so they don’t gain weight or get sick. Also, competitive eating is safer than football and many other sports. It’s rare for competitive eaters to have severe injuries.

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