Bristol: A 19-year-old boy from Bristol in south England was diagnosed with nutritional optic neuropathy, which got him deaf and Bilnd over the course of 10 years in which he was on a strict diet of only junk food. No, don’t get us wrong. He was not advised to get on the diet for the condition, but the junk food got him to that condition.
Ten years of only junk food took its toll on his body. He had a temporary eating disorder called ARFID. He never liked the texture of Vegies or fruits. That made him a very fussy eater. He was on a diet of chips, Crisps sausages and white bread. All of this while not taking the necessary suppliments that made up for all the nutrition that the fruits and veggies would have given him.
A conversation with his mother revealed the below:
“The first we knew about it was when he began coming home from primary school with his packed lunch untouched,” she said.
“I would make him nice sandwiches – and put an apple or other fruit in – and he wouldn’t eat any of it. His teachers became concerned, too. His brother and sister have never stopped eating. They love everything. He has always been skinny, so we had no weight concerns. You hear about junk food and obesity all the time – but he was as thin as a rake. His sight went downhill very fast – to the point where he is now legally blind. He has no social life to speak of now. After leaving school he got into college to do a course in IT. But he had to give it up because he could not see or hear anything. He would love a job, but he has not been able to find anything he can do. I had to quit my job in a pub. I now look after him full-time. He is taking vitamin supplements, but his diet is still pretty much the same. When he was having counselling we managed to start him on fruit smoothies. But he’s gone off those now. We couldn’t believe it when we were told what had happened. We are told the damage is irreversible. It’s been a nightmare. My son would love a job where he can sit at a desk and be useful. His siblings are doing well. It’s heartbreaking.”
Dr Denize Atan, who treated the teenager at Bristol Eye Hospital, said: “He had a daily portion of fries from the local fish and chip shop and snacked on Pringles, white bread, processed ham slices and sausage.
“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.”
Atan and her colleagues re-checked the young man’s vitamin levels and found he was low in B12 as well as some other important vitamins and minerals. He was not over or underweight, but was severely malnourished.
The paper said it was well-known junk food increased the risk of poor cardiovascular health, obesity and cancer. But it warned not everyone realised that poor nutrition could also permanently damage the nervous system, particularly vision.