With its extreme focus on rapid consumption and pushing the body’s limits, competitive eating poses a potential threat to the body’s natural satiety reflex, a key internal mechanism for maintaining a healthy weight. According to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, this internal regulation system is responsible for recognizing physical cues of hunger, appetite, and fullness, helping regulate the amount of food consumed to support a stable body weight. However, if said internal regulation is compromised, you may struggle to identify sensations linked to hunger and satiety. As Stack explains, when you eat, the stomach sends signals to the brain when it reaches a certain point of fullness, signaling that it’s time to stop eating. However, this natural neural reflex weakens in the world of competitive eating, where the norm is binge eating and surpassing the point of satiety.
In fact, in a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, researchers interviewed a speed-eating champion, who revealed the extent to which training for such competitions can alter their satiety reflex. The study discovered that these champions, driven to consume larger quantities of food at high speed, intentionally override the signals of fullness and satiety during their training. Over time, their stomachs can stretch so much that the sensation of being full is lost, which comes with significant consequences, seeing that they may find themselves incapable of experiencing the usual feelings of fullness and satisfaction after a meal. Therefore, the risk of developing obesity and associated health issues becomes substantial in this scenario.