Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Boy who went blind from junk-food diet not just a cautionary tale for teens

We now have the first documented case of a 17-year old boy going blind (and deaf) from an unadulterated junk-food diet. The British teen, who has subsisted for years on a diet of Pringles, French fries, white bread, and slices of processed ham and sausage, has featured widely in the press worldwide, partly because it makes a good headline.
But this is not just a rebellious kid deliberately eschewing good dietary advice. In fact, he suffers from a rare psychiatric condition called avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, which (in his case) makes him pathlogically averse to certain food textures. His resulting unhealthy and limited diet has led over years to a severe Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, raised zinc levels, and low bone density. Ultimately, this led to a dysfunction of the optic nerve known as nutritional optic neuropathy and permanent vision damage. This is very rare in the western world, being more commonly encountered in areas of malnutrition due to poverty, war and drought.
So, we should be wary of using this as a salutary example of what can happen if we eat too much junk food. This is not just a picky kid, but one suffering from an extreme example of a debilitating eating disorder rarely encountered by health professionals.

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