teens

For most of his life, a 17yo ate nothing but hot chips and Pringles. Now he's blind.

There’s nothing I can’t resist more than hot chips.

Put a bowl of fries in front of me and I’ll devour the whole lot. I’ve often mused to literally anyone around me as I shovelled as many chips as I could hold down my throat that if I had to eat one meal for the rest of my life it would be hot chips. (In what universe, I’d be forced to go through with this very specific demand is not the point here.)

But not anymore.

Because a British teen has gone blind thanks to his diet of French fries, Pringles chips and white bread.

“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,” Dr Denize Atan, who treated the teen at hospital, said, according to the study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone once urged parents of fussy eaters to let their children go hungry, but should fussy adult eaters also abide by this rule? Decide for yourself.

Video by Channel 7

The 17-year-old, who was not named, first went to his doctor at age 14 complaining of fatigue and tiredness. Although he admitted he was a “fussy eater”, since he was a child, doctors found he was otherwise healthy. He was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency and given supplements.

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“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,” Dr Atan added.

However, the teen did not stick to his treatment plan or improve his diet. A year later he developed hearing loss and vision problems, which steadily worsened until at 17, he was taken to Bristol Eye Hospital with deteriorating vision and was diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy.

With just 20/200 vision in both eyes, the teenager is considered legally blind.

“He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision,” Dr Atan said. “That means he can’t drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV or discern faces.”

“He can walk around on his own though because he has got peripheral vision,” she added.

Although optic neuropathy can be reversed if caught early, when left untreated it can cause permanent damage.

Tests also found that the teenager was suffering from malnutrition and a severe vitamin deficiency, even though he was not under or overweight.

“He had lost minerals from his bone, which was really quite shocking for a boy of his age.”

He was put on vitamin supplements and referred to a dietitian and a specialist mental health team.

The teen, who is now 19, was found to have an eating disorder called ARFID (avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder). Those with the disorder will often avoid foods with certain texture, smell, taste or appearance.

Although his case is clearly an extreme example, Dr Atan pointed out that parents should be aware of the potential dangers of “fussy eating” and seek expert help.

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation’s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected] You can also visit their website, here.

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