What are the benefits of eating food?

is apparently too broad. Why?

How is it broader than these:

Is there any health risk in cellular phones?

Are there any health benefits to male circumcision?

What effects does alcohol have on underage children?

And how can I improve it?

  • Tim, I would ask a much simpler question: what are the benefits of drinking water? Like your food question, if you don't, you'll die; if you drink too much, you'll die; if you drink, you'll live. More specific than that, having to explain how water is important to nearly every cell in your body, what percentage of your blood is water, how water is necessary to the kidney, etc, is hugely broad, and it's only one molecule, so it should be much simpler. I think a request about a certain food, e.g. fish, would be easier to answer well. Apr 21 '15 at 17:59
  • 1
    Hmm maybe I'll ask about a smaller topic... :)
    – Tim
    Apr 21 '15 at 18:22

To me the (meta) question is not so much whether this health question is broader than any other one. The question is "can it receive an answer that is interesting, useful to others, not opinion-based and reasonably long".

In this specific case, the answer to "What are the benefits of eating food" would consist in demontrating how/why eating is important for health. This would not be a page but a complete treatise. I'm not sure a simpler answer such as "if you don't eat you'll eventually die from starvation (with steps in the middle that are X, Y and Z)" would be acceptable, because it would not explain the benefits of eating but the consequences of not eating.

I think the second paragraph of this answer from Robert Cartaino to another meta question applies here:

Sometimes you can take an interesting subject and make its contents sooo generic, that you take all the intriguing, applied questions on the subject, and turn it into a bland retreatment of articles you might find on Wikipedia.


If it would take an entire book to answer a question in any meaningful way, it isn't likely "right sized" for a site like this. In this case, it would take an entire shelf of books to even begin to cover all the ways this question could be answered. That is the very definition of "too broad."

Someone might be able to cherry-pick some generalizations that appear to answer this question, but who knows? It's not really clear what the problem statement is, or even what the right context is to begin answering this question.

This type of Q&A is better-suited to solving very specific problems rather than laying out vague lesson-seeking topics like "how does my body work?" or "How do I know if I'm healthy?" This question does not start with a much stronger premise than that. This question was "too broad."

That is why this question was closed.


After reviewing the three linked, here are the actions I took:

  1. Cell phones - Voted to close as being too broad, and flagged for moderator. Especially with the last sentence adding questions and scope.
  2. Circumcision - Not broad. It's a single medical procedure that has been studied, and can be answered easily.
  3. Alcohol - More broad than #2, but again, has a definable list of effects and has scientific evidence backing it up. This one is borderline too broad, but I didn't take any action on it.

For me, one of the key points in my first consideration is from the help section:

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

I can imagine several books coming from "What are the benefits of eating food".


This can be compared to the following two examples:

  1. Which waste residues accumulate into the liver? How to get rid of them?
  2. Can toxins accumulate in the liver?

The first one is too broad, because as Susan pointed out, it is:

more about specifics of what substances and what to do, so the scope also needs to be narrower

The second:

isn’t too broad because he’s asking just about whether it happens.

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