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Doctor discourages eating contests
Central News Agency
2008-10-24 02:14 AM
A doctor of emergency medicine said Thursday that he does not encourage eating contests anywhere, as competitive eating is physically risky.

Chien Ting-kuo, an emergency medicine physician at Mackay Memorial Hospital, spelled out the warning in the wake of an incident Wednesday in which a graduate school student was believed to have choked to death in an eating contest.

Chien said an airway obstruction, such as food in the trachea, could cause a normal healthy person to fall unconscious in one minute. That person could die of cardiopulmonary arrest if he or she remains unconsciousness for 10 minutes, he added.

If the cardiopulmonary arrest lasts for more than four minutes, the patient, even if he or she recovers, is very likely to suffer permanent brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen, he warned.

A biotechnology graduate student at Dayeh University in the central county of Changhua on Wednesday won the first prize of NT$2,000 in an eating contest at his school by wolfing down two medium-sized steamed buns with layers of eggs and cheese in a few minutes.

The student, surnamed Chen, talked with his classmates briefly after winning the contest, then headed for the toilet, according to Huang Teh-hsiang, dean of student affairs at the university.

When he got to the door of the toilet, Chen began vomiting heavily then collapsed on the floor, Huang related. The student never recovered, he added.

The 23-year-old Chen was rushed by an ambulance to Yuan Sheng Hospital in the neighboring Yuanlin township, where he was given 20 doses of cardiotonic in an emergency effort that lasted 90 minutes, though he had been pronounced dead on arrival.

Doctors at Yuan Sheng Hospital concluded preliminarily that Chen choked to death because of an airway obstruction, although further examination, probably an autopsy, would be needed before the cause of death could be determined, according to Huang.

Huang said Chen's institute did not register with the university authorities before organizing the eating contest, adding that Dayeh University has already decided to totally ban similar eating contests on its campus.

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