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Question

27 Sep 2007

Craving and eating white chalk
My problem is that I have become addicted to eating white chalk. I eat it daily for a week or two and sometimes try and skip at least 10 days before starting again. I want to stop as it is becoming quite expensive. I try and limit myself to about 4 - 8 sticks of chalk a day. And I am very specific with the type of chalk as well, it should be Crayola - the one with calcium carbonate not those other types. I also know that this cannot be healthy at all. Also I love chillies and have found that I do not get heartburn like normal people and I believe it is because of all the chalk. Can this be? How do I stop my bad eating habits. What can happen if I continue eating this way?
Answer 260,802 views
Expert
EnviroHealth expert

30 Aug 2019

I think you may have a medical condition called 'pica': this is a type of eating disorder, when a person feels a need to eat non-food substances. Different people with the condition eat different substances: some eat soil, some paper - and the list goes on. Chalk is in fact one of the commoner ones on the pica list. Previously on this forum, several people admitted to eating sponge/foam rubber.

There are several possible reasons why you have this condition, and you definitely need to see a doctor to find out the cause and to get treatment. Some people with pica are lacking a nutrient in their diet; but it may be caused by an underlying mental health problem.

You could see a GP about this, who could find out if you have a nutritional defficiency, and refer you to a psychologist or a psychiatrist if necessary.

Chalk (calcium carbonate) is generally considered to be non-toxic, but eating it is not advisable and it may result in the following problems: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea. The chalk from the dust may cause eye irritation, and isn't good for your lungs. Some kinds of chalk may contain toxic additives.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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