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Why do people eat toilet paper?

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Quick Answer

People who eat toilet paper and other odd items usually suffer from a condition known as pica. Pica is characterized by the compulsion to eat paint, dirt and other non-food items that have no nutritional value.

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Pica is generally diagnosed through a medical evaluation that looks for intestinal blockages and potential toxicity or anemia caused by ingesting non-food substances. In order to be diagnosed with pica, the individual must ingest non-food items at least monthly. Pica is treated with behavioral strategies and positive reinforcement methods. Notably, as much as 26 percent of the institutionalized population suffers from pica, according to the Handbook of Clinical Child Psychology.

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