Ben HaywardSeptember 2nd
2019

Doctors have warned of the risks of extreme fussy eating after a teenager permanently lost his sight due to living on a diet of chips and crisps for years.

Since leaving primary school, the 17-year-old had eaten nothing but French fries, Pringles, white bread, and an ‘occasional slice’ of ham or a sausage, with medical tests revealing the teenager to have severe vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition damage.

According to the BBC the boy had visited his GP at the age of 14 complaining of feeling ‘tired and unwell’ and was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency and put on supplements.

However, he didn’t stick with the treatment or improve his diet, and was taken to the Bristol Eye Hospital because of progressive sight loss, reports the Annals of Internal Medicine journal reports.

Dr Denize Atan, who treated him at the hospital, said: "His diet was essentially a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop every day. He also used to snack on crisps - Pringles - and sometimes slices of white bread and occasional slices of ham, and not really any fruit and vegetables.

"He explained this as an aversion to certain textures of food that he really could not tolerate, and so chips and crisps were really the only types of food that he wanted and felt that he could eat."

Although he was neither over or underweight, he was found to be severely malnourished from his eating disorder - avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, with Dr Atan and her colleagues discovering he was low in B12 as well as copper, selenium and vitamin D.

He was also diagnosed with Nutritional Optic Neuropathy, with Dr Atan saying he meets the criteria for being declared ‘legally blind’. She said: "He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision. That means he can't drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV or discern faces.”

Although cases like this are uncommon, Dr Atan warned that parents should be aware of the potential consequences of picky eating, stressing that even though multivitamin tablets can supplement a diet they are not a substitute for healthy eating.

Consultant dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, Rebecca McManamon, said restricted diets can be caused by a number of factors including eating disorders, allergies and autism, and really need specialist attention.

"It's also worth noting that since 2016 the UK government has recommended daily Vitamin D supplementation (10 microgrammes/400 International Units) for everyone between October and March as we are not likely to get enough from fortified foods.

"Multivitamin supplementation is recommended for all children up to their fifth birthday.”

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