Ice chewing is a crunchy habit that may be an indicator of iron deficiency anemia. The practice of compulsively chewing and consuming excessive amounts of ice is called pagophagia. Pagophagia is a form of pica, a condition where people crave and eat nonfood items that have no nutritional value.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 2 percent of American males ages 18 and older as well as 16 percent of females between ages 16 and 19 are compulsive ice chewers.
Treating compulsive ice chewing often requires nothing more than treating the iron deficiency, although for some people, the compulsive craving may indicate a developmental disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or too much stress.
Did You Know?
According to a January 2008 article in the "Wall Street Journal," sales of machines that produce easier-to-chew ice increased by roughly 23 percent between 2003 and 2006.