Have you ever wondered why your child craves candy? It turns out that children have different taste buds than adults, due to change as we age. According to the Monell Chemical Senses Center based in Philadelphia, children who have a bitter-sensitive taste genotype are more likely to seek sweet food. The genotype does not in the same way affect adults who have it, however.
But we can’t chalk all cravings up to a genotype, and furthermore certain cravings aren’t just sweet attacks. In cases where children are craving and chewing ice, those children might be anemic. If it sounds strange to you, you’re not alone. Medical professionals are baffled by the connection too. Known as pagophagia, the practice of consuming ice is a complex phenomenon “arising from the interplay of biochemical, hematological, psychological, and cultural factors.” In fact, some researchers urge clinicians to look for iron deficiency once the consumption of any kind of unusual material is detected. Known more generally as pica, patients develop cravings for non-nutritive substances that can cause significant health risks. Examples of non-nutritive substances include dirt, sand, and chalk.
It’s important to listen to your child’s body, and to contact your primary care physician should you suspect anything unusual with your child’s eating habits. Although the occasional sweet attack and craving is normal, extreme behavior involving cravings could signal potential psychological, developmental, or physical problems.