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Literature Review Essay Draft

Kaolin Consumption in Central Georgia

Instructor: Dr. Kimberly Bunts-Anderson

Student: Cherald Loveras


Fall 2019


Pica, the consumption and craving for non-food substance, is a disorder whose causes

have remained indefinable for a period longer than two thousand years. During the second month

of the gestation period, a particular disease named Pica develops within the pregnant woman. To

quench this debauched humor, these women start to crave odd substances including ordinary

soil, just like Pica, a magpie bird that is identified for their unselective appetite from which the

disease gets its name. Soil comprises one of the earliest and most commonly ingested and craved

nonfood elements in central Georgia, with most pregnant women not just going for any soil but

the finest ones, including kaolin.

Pica does not have a single recognized cause. However, there are various causes that have

been associated with this condition, including famine, nutritional deficiencies, and more others.

Although there is no single recognized cause of Pica, some studies claim that famine plays a

significant role in the development of this disorder. For instance, residents in central Georgia,

especially expectant mothers, have shown increased signs of this disorder as a result of the

famine that recently struck the region. When famine strikes, individuals experience issues

finding food to eat. In the instance that this famine persists, the scarcity of food makes

individuals start developing this condition that pushes them to consume non-food substances

(Young, 2007). Individuals usually decide to consume these non-food substances, including

Kaolin, to give their stomachs a feeling of satisfaction. In some cases, nutritional deficiencies,

such as zinc or iron, may prompt particular cravings. Therefore, individuals with these nutritional

deficiencies tend to feed on these non-food substances such as Kaolin to find these nutrients

(Young, 2007). However, studies have not yet found the relationship between most of the non-

food substances craved for and the nutritional deficiencies lacking in the bodies of individuals

since these non-food substances do not supply the deficient nutrients in people’s bodies. Recent

studies suggest that bodies push people towards consuming such substances with the hope they

will provide the missing nutrients required by the body.

Besides famine and nutritional disorders, other possible causes of Pica include dieting,

malnutrition, cultural determinants, parental neglect, pregnancy, and developmental issues

(Young, 2007). The above factors have been determined as the other possible reasons why the

residents of central Georgia feed on Kaolin. Individuals experiencing the Pica condition consume

various non-food substances (Young, 2011). The kinds of non-food substances consumed by

such individuals are divided into two groups, Geophagia and Pagophagia.

Geophagy, also identified as Geophagia, represents the practice of consuming soil-like

substances, including chalk or clay. Individuals suffering from the Pica condition usually

practice Geophagia in the sense that they feed on earth-like non-food substances to quench their

cravings (Young, 2011). For instance, most of the central Georgian residents experiencing Pica

feed on Kaolin. Pagophagia represents the uncontrollable consumption of iced drinks or the ice

itself. The practice has been significantly linked with iron deficiency anemia (Young, 2011).

Therefore, individuals suffering from pica condition compulsively feed on substances such as ice

cubes hoping that these non-food substances will give them the iron needed in the body.

Pica symptoms are also associated with the non-food substance that an individual

consumes. The symptoms include stomach pain, stomach upset, bowel issues including

constipation and diarrhea and constipation, and blood in the stool, which could result from the

development of ulcers due to consuming non-food problems (Young, 2011). The symptoms

occur due to the bacteria, toxic, and poisonous content of these non-food substances. Numerous

children usually chew substances like ice, hair, or toys. Such habits could be considered as

normal amid most of these children (Young, 2011). Nonetheless, an individual diagnosed with

Pica frequently consumes non-food substances even when it makes them sick. Such individuals

should seek the doctor’s intervention.

During the diagnosis of Pica, physicians can order several tests, including blood tests.

The tests are meant to identify toxins in the blood (Young, 2011). In addition to the blood tests,

the physician could examine one's zinc and iron levels. The lack of these vitamins is associated

with the triggering for eating clay and dirt in particular instances. Also, the doctor could examine

the physical symptoms of an individual, including bowel issues and stomach upset. Physicians

could ask if one has been consuming non-food substances for a long time (Young, 2011). If they

find out that one has been exercising this behavior for a month or more, then this individual

would be considered diagnosed with Pica. Aside from the above tests, physicians may also order

extra blood tests and X-rays to determine various consequent complications, including anemia,

intestinal tract blockage, and hyperkalemia (Young, 2011). The blood tests would be necessary

to identify the possibilities of anemia and hyperkalemia, while the X-ray would be significant in

identifying intestinal track blockage. Pica treatment is meant to address various things. The

physician will address one’s disease from the consumption of non-food substances (Young,

2011). For instance, the physician may treat one’s diarrhea, intestinal tear, constipation,

infection, ulcer, or any disease combinations. The physician could then identify various

symptoms that may show proof of the disorder’s existence (Young, 2011).

The purpose of the study was to identify the prevalence of Kaolin consumption in central

Georgia. The study targeted individuals who demonstrated cravings for non-food substances.

Data was collected via interviews, which were conducted on the target group. Results from the

study showed that the behavior of Kaolin consumption was experienced amid most pregnant

women and other individuals living in famine-stricken areas who mostly complained about

bowel problems and diarrhea. The results showed that pregnancy and famine are some of the

determinants of Kaolin consumption among the residents of central Georgia. Similarly, the case

study above highlights that most of the behavior of Kaolin consumption was discovered amid

pregnant women and individuals living in famine-stricken areas. The complications such as

bowel problems and diarrhea are also similar to what is experienced in the case of Pica, although

some of these complications resemble those for dialysis patients (Stillman & Gonzalez, 2009).

Therefore, it shows a relationship between the case study and Pica.

Kaolin consumption amid the central Georgian residents is a strong indication that some

of these individuals suffer from the Pica condition. Pica could result from various factors such as

famine, nutritional deficiencies, pregnancy, and many more. Individuals having this disorder

mostly complain of bowel problems and diarrhea, including many other symptoms. Various

blood tests are implemented to also check the patient’s blood content. An individual may be

diagnosed with Pica after demonstrating the behavior of feeding on non-food substances for a

long period of time.



Stillman, M. A., & Gonzalez, E. A. (2009). The incidence of pica in a sample of dialysis patients.

International Journal of Psychology and Counselling, 1(5), 066-093.

Young, S. L. (2007). Evidence for the consumption of the inedible. Who, what, when, where,

and why. Consuming the Inedible. Neglected Dimensions of Food Choice, 17-30.

Young, S. L. (2011). Craving earth: understanding Pica—the urge to eat clay, starch, ice, and

chalk. Columbia University Press.