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Question
Posted by: Leila | 2011/09/19

Child refuses to eat fruit

I know of a 4 yr old child who refuses to eat any fruit, juice or vegetable, he stopped eating curry also but only the rice. He craves biscuits and cakes and refuses and iron medicine by vomiting it out.
How do we solve this problem, as he is also eating sand and stones..
Leila

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEating Disorders Expert

Hello Leila,
You are not describing an eating disorder here (e.g., Anorexia Nervosa or bulimia Nervosa), but rather disorder eating in a young child. The child's ingestion of sand and stones is called "Pica", which used to be categorised as an eating disorder in the earlier diagnostic manuals, but is no longer understood to be an eating disorder. It's not uncommon for toddlers to eat such "non-nutritional" substances in response to certain mineral or vitamin deficiencies in their diet. The ingestion of such substances as dirt or paint is indication of a deficiency in the diet of minerals that do exist in these non-food substances. I recall answering a forum question last year in which a man was eating soil on a regular basis. It was a clear case of pica. What I suggest is that this child be taken to a paediatrition for an initial investigation, where referral to a dietician who specializes in paediatric dietician will likely be made. It will also need to be determined whether there is scope for a child psychologist, as the food refusal and pica behaviour might have a psychological source. I hope that this helps. Regards, Graham

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Our users say:
Posted by: Eating Disorders Expert | 2011/09/29

Hello Leila,
You are not describing an eating disorder here (e.g., Anorexia Nervosa or bulimia Nervosa), but rather disorder eating in a young child. The child's ingestion of sand and stones is called "Pica", which used to be categorised as an eating disorder in the earlier diagnostic manuals, but is no longer understood to be an eating disorder. It's not uncommon for toddlers to eat such "non-nutritional" substances in response to certain mineral or vitamin deficiencies in their diet. The ingestion of such substances as dirt or paint is indication of a deficiency in the diet of minerals that do exist in these non-food substances. I recall answering a forum question last year in which a man was eating soil on a regular basis. It was a clear case of pica. What I suggest is that this child be taken to a paediatrition for an initial investigation, where referral to a dietician who specializes in paediatric dietician will likely be made. It will also need to be determined whether there is scope for a child psychologist, as the food refusal and pica behaviour might have a psychological source. I hope that this helps. Regards, Graham

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