Sunday, April 18, 2010

China Girl Eats Pounds of Dirt Daily

This morning I found myself drawn in to a rather odd, yet interesting story my good friend Joey Antonio posted on facebook this morning. Joey has a knack for finding the strangest of strange news. And this story was no different.

A 19 year old Chinese girl named Bao Bao, tried eating soil, aka dirt, at age 7 and hasn't been able to stop since. In the brief article, she said "It gives me energy. I can live without rice but not soil." She only eats a yellowish, soft powdery soil and consumes about 1/2 to 2 pounds of dirt daily to "keep going." And apparently her boyfriend doesn't mind since she is a cheap date.

As odd as it sounds, Bao Bao is not alone in her dirt eating habit. She has what is callled pica, a pattern of eating non-food materials such as dirt, clay, animal feces, paint, sand or paper. If you are starting to have clear memories of the strange little kid from your pre-K who ate mudpies, you aren't alone, pica is most common in children than young adults like Bao Bao. In fact, an estimated 10-32% of kids aged 1-6 eat dirt. Pica can also occur in pregnant women or adults who crave a certain texture that they apparently can't get from food.

Aside from the obvious issues with eating non-fresh dirt, people with pica often have iron deficiency anemia and zinc deficiency. If you or someone you know has pica, it's time to visit a doctor and get tested for blood levels of iron and zinc and also check for other medical problems such as lead exposure.

Munching on dirt is a cheap habit but could be a sign of other medical issues and of course, it may result shame or at the least, odd stares from your friends and family.

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