‘Dry scooping’ has already amassed more than eight million ‘likes’ on TikTok, but medics have warned that it can lead to lung and heart seizures – and is potentially deadly for kids
A potentially deadly new craze called ‘dry scooping’ is sweeping social media, parents have been warned.
It involves swallowing protein workout powder dry – then washing it down with water.
Dry scooping has already amassed more than eight million ‘likes’ on video-sharing social network TikTok, with one influencer telling how she suffered a heart attack.
But medics warned that it can lead to lung and heart seizures – and is potentially deadly for kids.
Study lead author Nelson Chow, a paediatrics student at Princeton University in the US, said: “Dry scooping, a particularly risky method of consumption, entails putting undiluted powder into one’s mouth followed by sips of liquid.
“The highly concentrated powder can lead to choking, accidental inhalation, overconsumption injury and death.
“Despite being labeled 18-plus, pre-workout has become increasingly popular among teens.
“This study investigates risky behaviour associated with underage pre-workout use on the social media app, TikTok, a platform with millions of teenage users.”
The US team collected 100 TikTok videos under the hashtag “#preworkout”.
They analysed likes, method of ingestion, number of servings and combination with other substances.
Mr Chow said: “Pre-workout supplements have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years.
“Taken before exercise, pre-workout is advertised to improve athletic performance and increase energy and focus.
“Typically, pre-workout is sold in powder form, intended to be combined with water and consumed as a drink.”
They often contain high concentrations of caffeine mixed with substances such as Beta-alanine, L-Citrulline and BCAAs.
Mr Chow said: “Several pre-workouts have been banned for containing substances such as DMAA and Synephrine.
Almost two thirds of videos featured males, three in ten females and six percent both. Only one in twelve depicted use according to instruction.
The most popular substances taken alongside were energy drinks and alcohol.
Users were at extremely high risk of overconsumption or accidental inhalation of the pre-workout powder.
Mr Chow advised doctors to be aware of the pervasiveness of dry scooping.
He said: “It can be difficult for physicians to identify novel trends that may pose health hazards among youth.
“Take for instance the current pervasiveness of pre-workout and the dangerous methods of its consumption.
“Sometimes investigating unorthodox platforms like TikTok can yield valuable results.”
In Jun, Briatney Portillo, a 20-year-old social media influencer, revealed she suffered a heart attack after trying the TikTok challenge.
She told BuzzFeed: “After I took the pre-workout, I started to feel tingly and itchy all over my body, which wasn’t a good feeling, but I googled it and it said that was a normal side effect. So I began to do my workout.
“I started to feel a heavy feeling in my chest and slight pain, but it wasn’t too bad. I thought it was maybe anxiety or a bad panic attack, so I decided to just ignore it and push through my workout.”
After arriving at work she called an ambulance where she was rushed to hospital.
She said: “I realised I needed to call 911 when the chest pain got more intense and my left side felt kinda dead. I also was sweating profusely.”
Doctors told her to avoid caffeine and to be cautious when taking supplements.
She opened up about her experience to let others know how dangerous these social media trends could be.
Added Briatney: “I just want people to be careful with what they’re consuming. Just because you see it online, even if it’s ‘fitness influencers’ doing it, doesn’t mean it’s safe.”
Mr Chow is due to present the findings at a virtual American Academy of Pediatrics meeting on Saturday.