Dry scooping: Risky social media trend may be making many young men sick

TORONTO, Ontario — Social media is full of strange and potentially dangerous trends — and researchers in Toronto say dry scooping is no exception. A new study finds nearly one in five adolescent boys and young adult men engage in the dry scooping challenge. However, researchers say this odd pre-workout routine could be seriously affecting their health.

The strange dietary phenomenon involves taking an entire scoop of powder — typically full of supplements or protein — and eating it without mixing it in any water at all. These dietary products are meant to be mixed into water and consumed prior to working out. This “challenge” has become a common sight on various social media platforms. While it may get some to laugh as people cough up the powder, the new study warns that ingesting this material without diluting it can lead to a number of different health problems.

Dry scooping can have serious health effects, including issues with inhalation, cardiac abnormalities, and digestive issues,” says lead author Kyle Ganson, PhD, MSW, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, in a media release. “To date, however, there have been no epidemiological studies investigating the occurrence of dry scooping among young people, leaving significant information unknown.”

Researchers analyzed more than 2,700 Canadian adolescents and young adults who took part in the Canadian Study of Adolescent Health Behaviors during this project. Results show that 17 percent admitted to dry scooping at least once over the past year. However, the average person did it at least 50 times during that time period.

Social media leading to several harmful behaviors

The team found that those who were weight training and spent more time on social media throughout the day were more likely to say they tried dry scooping.

“Our data shows that novel dietary phenomena that become popularized on social media and within gym culture can lead to a greater likelihood of engagement,” Ganson adds. “We need to be thinking of these risk factors as potential areas of prevention and intervention.”

Additionally, researchers say they also found a link between the dry scooping social media trend and muscle dysmorphia. This mental health condition sees people become obsessed with the idea that their body isn’t lean or muscular enough. People with muscle dysmorphia can deal with psychological and social distress because of this and some may turn to steroids in order to build muscle quickly. The new report finds those displaying symptoms of muscle dysmorphia were more likely to also admit that they dry scoop.

“We need health care and mental health care providers to be knowledgeable of these unique dietary practices aimed at increasing performance and musculature, such as dry scooping,” Ganson concludes.

The findings appear in the journal Eating Behaviors.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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