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Eating Dirt And Other Non Food Items

1353 words - 6 pages

Pica is a disease which has the main trait of eating non-food products. Gerald Callahan (2013) wrote an article called “Eating Dirt” which discusses the immunological effects of the pica of eating dirt. There are various types of non-food items people consume that show abnormal behaviour. There are numerous health risks and issues with people eating food not intended to being eaten and in contrast there are also benefits to people from eating certain picas. There are multiple possibilities as to why people eat non-food items. In modern culture there are a variety of picas that are present.

A pica may be eaten in many different forms. Callahan (2013: 164) suggests the idea of eating dirt for children and even for people later in life as most foods have traces of dirt in it. He explains the trend of toddlers consuming dirt and in western cultures it being looked down on. People who consume large amounts of non-food items are often referred to as diseased or abnormal. To be labelled as diseased for eating dirt it is defined that you must consume more than 50 grams of dirt per day. The idea of non-food items being consumed as abnormal behaviour is expressed further by Sharma (2011: 2375) who explains the case of an elderly dementia patient eating her own feces and she was admitted to a hospital because it is an abnormal and possibly sickening action. This is a type of pica because the non-food item has no nutrition value and is considered very abnormal to eat. In most societies around the world eating feces is abnormal due to the health concerns behind it. Piazza (2002: 235) explains a variety of picas that mentally handicapped girls are consuming such as: car keys, rocks, sticks, rubber gloves, batteries, plastic, fabric, soap, feces and dirt. All of these items are inedible objects which are considered wrong to eat by western society. If these items were not considered abnormal to eat then these people would not have been selected for the experiment. This shows the extent of picas that can be consumed other than just dirt as the original article explains.

The amount of health risks related to pica conditions is overwhelming. According to Callahan (2013: 164) eating dirt can cause illness in people due to all of the microbes that make up dirt. This is a major health issue with the pica of eating dirt because it can cause illness due to all of the germs found in dirt. Callahan (2013: 167) suggests the idea that toxic substances could possibly contaminate the soil in industrial areas or areas that are home to humans; animal and human fecal matter is also a risk when eating dirt due to the diseases they can cause when ingested. The chemicals and compounds in soil that is located near a factory for example could cause harmful illnesses as so could decomposing feces that has formed into dirt. In the case of an elderly lady eating her own feces on purpose Sharma (2011: 2375) explains she was admitted to a hospital because she had become sick after...

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