‘Dry scooping’ problem turns preworkout powder into harmful TikTok pattern

ITASCA, Illinois – From tide pods to planking, the internet has certainly seen some “challenges” over the past decade. Now, a new study is ringing the alarm bell about a disturbing new online trend towards powdered pre-workout beverages. Researchers say the “dry head” challenge, which has garnered over eight million views on TikTok alone, is potentially fatal.

Powdered pre-workout drinks that contain tons of caffeine and other additives are meant to be mixed with water and then consumed. This scooping phenomenon challenges online users to put a scoop of undiluted powder in their mouths followed by just a few sips of water. Given that many pre-workout substances can be dangerous to teenagers, even if properly prepared, the idea that millions of teenagers are facing this challenge is particularly troubling to researchers.

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“It can be difficult for doctors to identify new trends that can pose health risks in adolescents. Take, for example, the current prevalence of pre-workout and the dangerous ways it is consumed, ”said Nelson Chow, author of the abstract, student at Princeton University and intern in developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, in a press release. “Sometimes examining unorthodox platforms like TikTok can provide valuable results.”

Many do not mix these powders with water

Study authors say anyone who takes up this challenge is at serious risk of overconsuming or accidentally inhaling pre-workout powders. Worse, some of these challenge videos show users mixing the pre-workouts with extra energy drinks or even alcohol.

The researchers selected 100 TikTok videos under the hashtag “#preworkout” and analyzed each one according to the number of likes, shares, consumption method, number of servings and combinations with other substances. Most of the videos were about men (64%), while women (30%) and ambiguous / both (6%) made up the rest. Only 8% of the videos included actually showed the correct preparation of a pre-workout drink and the most common substances added were alcohol, energy drinks, creatine and protein powder.

The researchers presented their results at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition 2021.


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