Mukbang Videos: Why Are They So Addictive?

    Mukbang Videos: Why Are They So Addictive?

    People use the Internet every day for a wide variety of purposes. Most people use the internet to communicate with others, to keep abreast of current events, and to entertain themselves. For the latter, mukbang videos are trending, fascinating audiences with their highly addictive content.

    What is mukbang and why is watching it so addictive?

    A blend of two Korean words “meukneun” (eating) and “songbang” (broadcasting), mukbang videos are online shows where the person filming themselves eats and interacts with viewers. It has crossed over to different countries, with vloggers doing their own versions. Their videos and channels measure their success in the millions.

    The popularity of mukbang stems from social, entertainment-oriented, food-related, escapist and even sexual reasons.

    According to a study, mukbang watchers are able to find a virtual community that shares a common interest. As a result, feelings of isolation and loneliness are lessened. However, as we all know, the Internet is a double-edged sword. Every online activity fulfills a desire in the user: online gaming fulfills the player’s need for competition, skills development, social reasons, and recreation; people who surf the web for porn have their needs for sexual arousal, physical pleasure satisfied. A large body of research has shown that online activities can have negative effects on users, for instance, depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, and self-esteem issues.

    In the same vein, watching mukbang videos could spawn unhealthy food preferences, bad eating habits, eating disorders, and addiction.

    Why do people watch it?

    Social gratification

    A study found that these videos had the power to fend off loneliness by allowing viewers to make connections with others through shared interests. The same body of research cited a study that looked into the practice of eating together. Mukbang, the study found, could help people who were eating alone – whether by choice or forced by the pandemic – to not feel so lonely. That same feeling of connection gave rise to a sense of community and belonging.

    Therapeutic purposes

    Some viewers get a sense of relief and pleasure from listening to the sounds of people eating (i.e., chewing, slurping). This ASMR component is one of the appeals of mukbang videos. ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is a perceptual sensory event that triggers a calming sensation. This is usually activated by sounds and images. Whispering, hair brushing, scratching and crinkling are some examples of ASMR.


    Other people may watch mukbang videos to avoid problems in their daily lives and escape negative feelings.

    Vicarious experience

    Mukbang also offers viewers the pleasure of eating food they wish they could eat (i.e., “fantasized” food) while actually avoiding eating the food.

    Key Takeaway

    Mukbang is a phenomenon in which content creators film themselves eating large amounts of food and post it online. Originating in South Korea, this has spread like wildfire across the globe, with some vloggers doing their own versions. Mukbang videos are so addictive because they offer social gratification and have therapeutic uses.

    It’s important to be wary of mukbang videos’ addictive quality. It could promote poor eating habits, distorted views on food, and encouraged eating disorders because mukbangers are seen eating unhealthy and extreme amounts of food. Content creators are also at risk of developing weight-related conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

    Learn more about Healthy Eating here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Written by China Logarta · Updated Aug 05, 2022