Why do people eat dirt?

23.10.2012

A new study conducted in Madagascar, where pica — the widespread phenomenon, first showed that this practice is widespread among men. At least they ate something that, in our opinion, is not fit to eat, with no less zeal than pregnant women and teens.

Cakes of ground salt and vegetable fat. Not Madagascar, but Haiti, Port-au-Prince.
 

"I think (I can not prove) that previous studies have simply ignored the men," — says lead author Christopher Golden of the U.S. National Geographic Society. His co-author Laura Beatriz Lopez of the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) is of the same opinion.

Researchers on the advice of Sera Young of Cornell University (USA) interviewed 760 people from 16 villages in Madagascar to preserve Makira. Both men and women are admitted to use the thirteen non-food substances, including sand, soil, chicken manure, raw rice, raw cassava root, coal, salt and ash. In general, pica was not alien to 53% of the respondents. Among men, the figure was 63%. Exclusively during pregnancy eating all sorts of oddities less than 1% of women.

Many have said that they do it for medical purposes: like helps with indigestion. On the whole, there is a belief that improves the health of pica. Scientists in this more or less accept: indeed thus can compensate for a deficiency in microelements and purified diet gastrointestinal parasites. From this point of view, this power is indeed more suitable for pregnant women and children, dietary needs are not the same as everyone else.

However, Mr. Golden emphasizes that there is no evidence of the human body to absorb minerals from the soil. He had the feeling that pica can hardly be beneficial to health. Perhaps it is simply the result of spontaneous current food culture: for example, many Malagasy do not consider raw starch (uncooked rice, etc.) something inedible.

Interestingly, the pica is not unique to the rural population in developing countries. For example, people everywhere are eating chalk.

The authors do not yet know how to classify pica. On an eating disorder does not seem to like, and the harmfulness of the practice remains to be proven.

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