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The Physicians Committee

Friends Egg Man on to Untimely Death
December 27, 2012

Competitive eating just ended in tragedy again. Friends of Dhaou Fatnassi, a 20-year-old man in Tunisia, dared him to eat 28 raw eggs in one sitting. Soon after eating the eggs, he felt stomach pains and died. I’ve said it before: There are no winners in competitive eating contests.

In October, Edward Archbold died minutes after participating in a cockroach-and-worm-eating contest sponsored by Ben Siegel Reptiles in Broward County, Fla. Following his death, PCRM petitioned the Broward County Board of Commissioners asking for a ban on eating contests in Broward County.

PCRM’s petition stated that “eating contests involve gorging on massive amounts of unhealthful foods and serve only to glamorize unhealthful foods and dysfunctional eating habits.” Fatnassi did not die from a corporate-sponsored event. But widely promoted eating contests influence risky behaviors like his. The 2011 Nathan’s Hot-Dog Eating Contest broadcast on ESPN had 1.949 million viewers.

The exact cause of Fatnassi’s death is still being investigated. But the dangers of consuming even one egg are already well-known: About 70 percent of the calories in eggs are from fat, and a large portion of that fat is saturated. Just one fatty meal can raise blood pressure, boost triglycerides, stiffen major arteries, and cause the heart to beat harder, increasing the risk of heart attack.

Eggs are also loaded with cholesterol—about 212 milligrams for an average-sized egg. And because eggshells are fragile and porous, eggs are the perfect host to salmonella. To avoid salmonella poisoning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should never eat raw eggs.

Most food-eating contests involve similarly unhealthful grub: hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, or other high-fat, high-cholesterol foods.

America exported its obesity epidemic, diabetes dilemma, and now its competitive-eating craze. It’s time for the United States to send the world a message about how food can save lives, not take them.


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