Volume 95, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



The etiology and health consequences of geophagy are still poorly understood. The consumed soil, individual motives, consumption habits, and the clinical perspective of geophagy in northern Uganda were examined. A total of 50 semistructured interviews (17 pregnant, eight nonpregnant women, 10 men, and 15 health-care professionals) were conducted. Our results suggest that geophagy is not limited to pregnancy and can also be found among nonpregnant women and men. During gestation, excessive amounts of various soil types are consumed and can replace food at times. Nonpregnant women and men consume less soil and stick to one type. When pregnant, craving and alleviating gastrointestinal upset are the main motives. In men, the main reasons for geophagy were craving, hypersalivation, and natural stimulants. If soil is craved, it can show similarities to a dependency syndrome. When picked up in childhood, geophagy is more likely to be continued throughout life. The consumption habits differ and thereby vary in their possible implications on health. Our findings suggest that men should be included in further studies. Especially nurses from the antenatal care are exposed to geophagists; however, no national guidelines exist for geophagy. Further research is necessary to create guidelines to be included in medical training and practice.


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  • Received : 10 Aug 2015
  • Accepted : 08 Aug 2016
  • Published online : 07 Dec 2016

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