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Filipinos react as DOH considers ‘Mukbang ban’ following vlogger’s death from stroke

The Department of Health (DOH) is contemplating a ban on ‘mukbang’ or eating vlogs following the tragic death of a food content creator in Iligan. Dongz Apatan, a vlogger who produced mukbang videos, passed away from a stroke on June 13, prompting health officials to re-evaluate the implications of such content on public health.

Health Secretary Teddy Herbosa issued a public health warning regarding mukbang videos, highlighting the risks associated with overeating, which is a central element of these videos. “It’s a bad practice because people make content by overeating. Overeating is not healthy. It will lead to obesity,” Herbosa stated. He further elaborated on the long-term health risks, noting, “And obesity will lead to hypertension, heart conditions, non-communicable diseases, and even heart attacks.”

Herbosa emphasized that studies have shown watching mukbang videos can lead to eating disorders or internet addiction. He expressed concern over the influence of such content, saying, “Because other people copy it. Other people will also do the same because they earn money from doing a video blog of mukbang. So, it’s risky for them.” The potential link between Apatan’s death and his mukbang activities has raised alarms, leading the DOH to consider regulatory actions.

The Health Secretary did not mince words regarding the possible ban, comparing mukbang to ‘food pornography’ due to its promotion of unhealthy eating habits. “You are promoting unhealthy behavior to the Filipinos….I can ban it locally. I can propose banning mukbang locally. Even ask the DICT to stop those sites,” Herbosa declared. He stressed that while earning income from content creation is acceptable, it should not come at the cost of public health. “If you’re earning from something that is a public health threat, I will have to stop you,” he added.

However, not everyone agrees with the proposed ban.

comments on mukbang ban
via X

Prominent food vlogger Richard defended mukbang videos, pointing out their positive impact on certain viewers. “May mga viewers po kami na may mga sakit, mga walang gana pong kumain, na nagpapasalamat po sa amin dahil nagkakaroon po sila ng gana kapag napapanood po yung mga video namin. Siyempre, yun po yung nagiging gasolina namin eh. Para magtuluy-tuloy, [We have viewers who are sick and have no appetite, and they thank us because they get their appetite back when they watch our videos. Of course, that becomes our fuel to keep going.]” he explained. Richard also highlighted the discipline practiced by many mukbang content creators, stating, “Isang beses lang po ako nakain sa isang araw. Tapos, naglo-low carb pa po ako. Disiplinado po kasi kami. So kahit naman yung mga regular na tao depende po yan sa ating ating disiplina sa pagkain. [I only eat once a day. Also, I follow a low-carb diet. We are disciplined. So, even for regular people, it all depends on our discipline with food.]”

In response to the controversy, YouTube, a major platform for mukbang videos, has asserted its commitment to monitoring content that could promote eating disorders. The platform is reviewing its policies and content more stringently to address these health concerns.

As the debate continues, the DOH’s potential ban on mukbang videos underscores a broader conversation about the responsibility of content creators and platforms in promoting healthy behaviors. The health implications of mukbang, particularly its potential to encourage overeating and related health issues, remain a significant concern for public health officials.

 

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