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Craving EarthUnderstanding Pica--the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk$
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Sera Young

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231146098

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231146098.001.0001

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Putting the Pica Pieces Together

Putting the Pica Pieces Together

(p.136) Chapter Ten Putting the Pica Pieces Together
Craving Earth

Sera L. Young

Columbia University Press

This chapter first discusses what we know about pica. Specifically that pica is ubiquitous; pica may be adaptive; pica is not due to hunger; pica is unlikely to contribute micronutrients to the diet; pica may cause micronutrient deficiencies; and pica may protect and detoxify. It then considers what remains unknown about pica, including its mechanistic causes, how behavior changes with age, and its evolutionary origins and functional consequences. The final section of the chapter explains the reasons why we need to find answers to the remaining questions about pica. One reason is because pica affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each and every day, many of them in the most vulnerable segments of our societies. Knowing the definitive consequences of pica has the potential to affect the lives of many. Another reason to continue the quest to understand pica is because it is a phenomenon at the heart of the complex biocultural being that is us humans; studying pica is a way to study what it means to be us.

Keywords:   pica, non-food cravings, diet, hunger, micronutrient deficiency, protection

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