In Depth

Hard to Swallow

You Won’t Be Hungry After Seeing This Nat Geo Show

The Fourth of July means fireworks, flags and the Nathan’s Coney Island hot dog eating contest.

It’s also a good time for National Geographic to take a scientific look at competitive eating.

Its new special, “Science of Speed Eating,” is scheduled to air July 8 at 9 p.m.

It will take a bite out of questions such as whether champion eaters are born or made and whether studying extreme eaters can provide insights into the cause and prevention of indigestion and other disorders. It also will look at how some of these competitors who eat so much manage to stay relatively thin.

There are risks involved in professional eating, including stomach perforations and esophageal tears. But Dr. David Metz told National Geographic Channel in the special that studying competitive eaters may provide medical breakthroughs that could help millions who suffer from stomach problems.

During the show, Dr. Metz performs three medical exams on Tim Janus, a Wall Street day trader and top-10 competitive eater.

Dr. Metz compares stomach capacities and digestion rates of a normal person with Mr. Janus to help determine whether professional eaters have genetically gifted bellies or have actually trained their bodies to hold abnormally huge amounts of food.

The initial results seem to indicate speed eaters may be able to condition their stomachs and digestive systems. “You know, people have asked me often if I think you can train a stomach, and I think one thing I’ve learned today is you certainly can,” Dr. Metz said.

“Science of Speed Eating” also provides viewers with an in-depth look at the lifestyles and training methods of some of its fiercest competitors.

The show also focuses on Sonya Thomas, known as the Black Widow. This petite, 105-pound woman rules the eating world with records including consuming 65 hard-boiled eggs in six minutes, 46 dozen oysters in 10 and 48 tacos in 11. She can out-eat men three times her size, and claims she can consume up to 18 pounds of food and water at one time—that’s one-sixth of her total body weight.

“Science of Speed Eating” is produced by Big Fish Entertainment for the National Geographic Channel. For Big Fish Entertainment, the executive producers are Doug DePriest and Dan Cesareo. For the National Geographic Channel, the executive producer is Chris Valentini.

This article is part of TVWeek.com's Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.

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