Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
May 5, 2024 ·  4 min read

Doctors Warn Teens Not To Take Part in the Dangerous ‘Shell On’ Challenge

Just when you think social media has caused enough trouble (we’re still trying to forget the Tide Pod Challenge), it brings a whole new issue that’s worse than the last. Seriously? Who came up with the idea of daring young teens to eat food with their packaging or outer coverings still on?

Social media games and challenges can be fun at times, especially the regular dance or lip-syncing challenges. Facebook recently came up with the 10 years challenge, which was a lot of fun for everyone.

There are many things kids could dare themselves to do. How about daring teens to recite all the states in the U.S, all the countries in Europe, or all the presidents in Africa? You could also dare them to create high-functioning robots and mini-airplanes. Why would these kids dare each other to eat carrots through Ziploc bags and bite into bananas with the peel still on?

This silly challenge started recently on Snapchat, and it’s quickly spread to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and every social media platform you can think of. Teens and tweens are having a field day with this one. Despite being young, they seemingly will do anything to impress their friends and followers, in hopes to garner more. But is eating an egg with its shell on worth it if they’ll get is a few new followers?

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The health hazards are real

Doctors are pleading with the young ones to stop the madness and shun this ridiculous challenge. The kids are eating citrus fruits with peels still on, eating cereal right through the cardboard, eating chocolate with the wrappings still on, and eating veggies right through plastic wrappings [1].

“Organic material like fruit peels are typically not dangerous. Zest is often used in recipes (lemon zest) which is the shavings of the rind,” Dr. Max Plitt from Chicago told The New York Post [2]. “Eating plastic, on the other hand, can be dangerous. BPA has been suggested to influence hormones. Chemicals in PVC like vinyl chloride have been linked to cancers.”

BPA (Bisphenol A) is an organic synthetic compound that’s a component of many plastic commercial products. A 2015 study published on PubMed suggests that exposure to BPA plays a role in endocrine disorders including infertility, precocious puberty, breast cancer, prostate cancer and PCOS [3].

The younger children indulging in this horrifying act are at risk of undergoing puberty too early, a condition known as precocious puberty. The cause of this is often unknown, but exposure to BPA is thought to facilitate the early maturity process.

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Parents and guardians, kindly monitor your kids closely

Speaking to Health, Andrew Bernstein, MD, a pediatrician at North Suburban Pediatrics in Evanston, Illinois said [4]: “Eating food with packaging still on could be dangerous for a number of reasons. The packaging is meant partly to keep food germ-free and safe from the surrounding environment. If the packaging is eaten, there may be dangerous bacteria or chemicals on the outside packaging that could be toxic or could otherwise make someone sick. Additionally, the packaging is not designed to be digested and could cause damage or obstruction to internal organs.”

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It would be unreasonable to constantly monitor them, which is why parents need to educate their children on the dangers of doing this.  Freedom can be intoxicating, and kids (especially teens) have to be educated on what is acceptable and what is downright dangerous. Teachers at school can also play a role in prevention because many of these acts may happen outside of the home and on school grounds.

This may all seem a little silly, which may distract from the seriousness of it all, but it’s joke. We all know we’ve done some, lets say, ‘unintelligent’ things in our youth, but these challenges are getting out of hand and can be downright dangerous.


  1. Doctors Are Warning Teens Not To Participate In The Super Dangerous “Shell On Challenge”. Sarah Weinberg. Delish. Retrieved from April 21, 2019.
  2. ‘Shell on’ challenge is the latest dangerous Snapchat trend among teens. Alexandra Klausner. The New York Post. Retrieved from April 17, 2019.
  3. Health risk of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA). Konieczna et al. NCBI. Retrieved from 2015.
  4. Viral ‘Shell-On’ Challenge Is Encouraging Kids to Eat Food With Packaging On—Here’s Why It’s So Dangerous. Christina Oehler. Health. Retrieved from April 19, 2019.
  5. What is the 10 Year challenge? How to do it on Facebook or Instagram, and the funniest celebrity glow up posts. Megan Hills. Standard UK. Retrieved from February 4, 2019.
  6. Precocious puberty. Staff writer. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from April 5, 2019.