Pica is another eating disorder that involves eating things that are not considered food. Individuals with pica crave non-food substances, such as ice, dirt, soil, chalk, soap, paper, hair, cloth, wool, pebbles, laundry detergent, or cornstarch. Pica can occur in adults, as well as children and adolescents. That said, this disorder is most frequently observed in children, pregnant women, and individuals with mental disabilities.
Individuals with pica may be at an increased risk of poisoning, infections, gut injuries, and nutritional deficiencies. Depending on the substances ingested, pica may be fatal.
Nevertheless, to be considered pica, the eating of non-food substances must not be a normal part of someone’s culture or religion. In addition, it must not be considered a socially acceptable practice by a person’s peers. Individuals with pica tend to crave and eat non-food substances. This disorder may particularly affect children, pregnant women, and individuals with mental disabilities.