Last July 4, Joey Chestnut won the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest for the 15th time.

Debate photos courtesy of families; (background); Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images (Joey Chestnut)

Should Eating Competitions Be Banned?

Ten! Nine! Eight! . . . As the crowd counted down last July 4, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut shoved hot dogs into his mouth. When the clock ran out, he had won the 2022 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island in New York City. He had wolfed down 63 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes.

Each year, countless people watch eating contests like this one. Competitors eat everything from piles of chicken wings to tubs of baked beans. Many fans see these events as fun and harmless. 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 could lead to unhealthy eating habits. Other people say these competitions are wasteful. And that’s a shame, 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 speed eaters have eaten so fast that they’ve ended up choking. 

These contests make overeating seem like fun. That can set a bad example for kids. Plus, when competitors don’t finish all their food, the leftovers may get thrown out.

Eating contests are fun to watch and shouldn’t be banned. People aren’t forced to compete. They choose to do it for fun or prize money. Like athletes, they train and develop strategies to win. For example, many competitors dip their food in water, making it easier to swallow. 

Some people prepare by eating healthy foods and exercising. Also, competitive eating is safer than many other sports. It’s rare for competitive eaters to have severe injuries.

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