Not-So-Common Foods Of Choice

What is Pica?

Pica is disorder in which a person has a strong desire to eat, lick, or chew non-food items. These objects typically contain no nutritional value and often hold very harmful side effects. The word pica is derived from a Latin word meaning magpie, a type of bird who eats a wide variety of things

Accidental poisoning is perhaps the biggest hazard associated with pica. Other complications include lead poisoning, malnutrition, tears in the intestine lining, constipation and blockages in the digestive tract. This disorder is common in pregnant women, people with mental disorders and in small children.

Commonly Consumed Objects

Objects typically consumed by those with pica include:

  • Dirt
  • Paper
  • Paint chips
  • Rust
  • Glue
  • Burnt matches
  • Baking soda
  • Fingernails
  • Ice
  • Plaster
  • Soap
  • Feces
  • Hair
  • Chalk
  • Starch
  • Cigarette ashes
  • Wood
  • Stones
  • Clay
  • Coffee grounds
  • Pencil erasers
  • Light bulbs

Who has Pica?

Pica is found in a wide variety of people. There are several reasons why someone might have this disorder, such as nutritional deficiency or the presence of a mental disorder. This disorder is often found in children. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 10 to 20% of children will obtain this disorder.

Specific people groups who are at a higher risk for developing pica include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Malnourished people
  • People with certain customs or rituals
  • Those with strict diets
  • People with mental disorders or developmental problems
  • Children with a lack of supervision
  • Homeless people

Types of Pica

Those with pica consume or taste a wide variety of objects. The consumption of these objects results in many different problems.

These include:

  • Acuphagia – The consumption of sharp objects.
  • Amylophagia – The consumption of laundry starch, cornstarch, and other forms of purified starch.
  • Cautopyreiophagia – The consumption of burnt matches.
  • Geophagia – The consumption of sand, dirt and clay.
  • Lithophagia – The consumption of stones.
  • Plumbophagia – The consumption of lead.
  • Pagophagia – The consumption of ice.
  • Trichophagia – The consumption of hair.

Risks/Complications of Pica

These include:

  • Lead poisoning
  • Malnutrition
  • Death from poisoning
  • Abdominal problems
  • Teeth damage
  • Parasitic infections

Such complications can be very damaging to the health of a person and eating disorder residential programs across the country desire to help any sufferers. Pica can be a very dangerous eating disorder, and its presence should be addressed and analyzed by those at a qualified eating disorder treatment center.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.