Of course, the terms "obsessed" and "fetish" are often used colloquially to invoke positive connotations: "I'm obsessed with striped shirts," for example, or, "I have a shoe fetish," or even, "I'm having an OCD moment."
But no one with a clinical diagnosis would find anything positive about their condition: A true fetish gets in the way of life, Szymanski said.
"Someone with a fetish would literally say, if I'm not having sex covered with mud I'm not enjoying it," said Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and founder of goodinbed.com. "What I've found with most people [who think they have fetishes] is that they are not really fetishes; they're preferences."
The reaction to the South Korean trend seems more like rubber-necking at a car accident, similar to reality TV shows like Hoarders or The Biggest Loser.
"Someone's doing something novel; you think, Oh my God, she just ate six pounds -- how did that happen? It's something that gets you outside of your normal routine," Szymanski said.
The risk of the online eating rooms may have more to do with eating disorders, said Fugen Neziroglu, clinical director of the Bio-Behavioral Institute in New York.