Can you eat cardboard?

In this article we are going to answer can you eat cardboard, what is cardboard, what are the risks of eating cardboard, who eats cardboard, and what is Xhylophagia. 

Can you eat cardboard?

No, you should not eat cardboard. Cardboard is not intended to be eaten by humans or by animals. Some people might have an eating disorder known as pica in which they eat things with no nutritional value such as ice, cardboard, paper, and other stuff. 

Even if there are people that eat cardboard because of an eating disorder, it doesn’t mean it is okay to eat cardboard. Eating cardboard might not cause any harm to your health in the short run but in the long run you might suffer from toxic chemicals in your body or intestinal blockage. 

What is cardboard?

Cardboard is how heavy paper products are known. Cardboard includes simple thick paper to corrugated fiberboard which is made to store heavier material. There are several types of cardboard including

  • Paperboard
  • Containerboard
  • Folding boxboard
  • Solid bleached board
  • Solid unbleached board
  • White line chipboard
  • Binder’s board
  • Corrugated fiberboard 

Cardboard is made of a paper pulp material. Paper pulp material is made basically with timber, obtained from using recycled wood chips. 

The main difference between cardboard and paperboard is that paperboard is made with just one layer while paperboard is made with three layers. 

Cardboard is one of the most man-made eco-friendly materials because of the main source, raw material wood. The main use of cardboard is to make cereal boxes, paperboard, paper towels, tissues, and printing paper. 

What are the risks of eating cardboard?

Cardboard is not safe to eat because it is not intended to be food for humans or for animals. The risks of eating cardboard include

  • Cardboard can’t be broken down by our digestive system. When eaten in large amounts or large chunks, cardboard can cause an intestinal blockage that will require medical attention. 
  • Cardboard has toxic chemicals. There is enough research that cardboard has contaminated food stored in boxes made from cardboard with toxic chemicals that are obtained from recycled paper. Chemicals from printing inks can have serious effects on human health. 

Who eats cardboard? 

People that eat cardboard have an eating disorder known as pica. Pica is a disorder where people compulsively eat items with no nutritional value. 

Pica is known as the most common eating disorder in people with developmental disabilities and children. The most common developmental disability that has been related to pica is the obsession-compulsion spectrum disorder. 

People may eat non-nutritional items like

  • Ice
  • Soap
  • Buttons
  • Clay
  • Hair
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Cigarette ashes
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Chalk
  • Cardboard
  • Feces

This disorder appears most often in children, pregnant women, with low iron anemia, or accompanied by mental disorders. There is no single cause for pica but there are some underlying conditions that trigger pica.

The most common symptoms of pica include

  • Eating a not nutritional item for at least one month
  • The substance that is eaten is not part of a culture support practice
  • The most common thing to eat is paper, soap, cloth, hair, string, wool, soil, chalk, talcum powder, paint, gum, metal, pebbles, charcoal, ash, clay, starch, or ice.

Even if pica might seem to not cause any harm, it can be life-threatening. Some common health consequences of pica include

  • Stomach pain and bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Feeling full
  • Constipation
  • Inadequate nutritional intake 
  • Weaken muscle because of nutritional deficiencies
  • Intestinal perforation 
  • Intestinal infection
  • The buildup of toxic chemicals in the body

If you need more information about pica follow this link

What is Xylophagia? 

When people eat specifically paper and cardboard it is known as Xhylopahagia. This disorder has been linked to iron deficiency, Kleine-Levin syndrome, intellectual disabilities, and schizophrenia. 

Xhylophagia has been observed in both men and women but it is most common in people with low-socioeconomic income. 


This article answered can you eat cardboard, what is cardboard, what are the risks of eating cardboard, who eats cardboard, and what is Xhylophagia. 


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