Binge eating videos find big audience, even for weight loss

NEW YORK (AP) — While trying to lose weight, Becky Beach found assistance in an unlikely place: thousands of online videos featuring people binging on massive amounts of ramen, burgers, chicken wings and seafood boils brimming with crab and lobster.

The South Korea-rooted video trend is known as “mukbang,” and it has spread to the U.S. and around the globe on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

“I watch one whenever I feel like eating sweets or bad foods,” said Beach, a Dallas-based product designer for a Fortune 500 company. She has lost 10 pounds and views up to three mukbang videos a day. “It’s just satisfying to watch.”

Ashley Cobb, a math teacher in Washington, D.C., is also a fan after one of her eighth-graders turned her on to the videos.

Cobb said it’s “fun and soothing” to watch people dip food in sauce and “eat with so much enjoyment.” The footage transports her to “a different place” and “has a way of making you leave reality for a second, sort of like a good book.”

Such glowing feedback is pure gold to top creators like Bethany Gaskin in suburban Cincinnati. The 44-year-old, who has 2.2 million subscribers to her Bloveslife channel on YouTube, is a top earner, clearing more than $1 million in ad money as she eats her way through seafood boils, ginormous servings of barbecue ribs and other drool-worthy spreads.

She recently put out a Cajun butter dipping sauce, Bloves Smackalicious, and counts Cardi B and Amber Rose among her 1.1 million followers on Instagram.

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