Steady junk diet caused teen to go blind, study contends

A child's picky eating habits and a steady diet of French fries, potato chips, white bread, and processed pork caused him to go blind, according to a new case report published in a medical journal.

The report from England and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine is a reminder to parents about feeding their children a healthy diet.

The report by clinician-scientists from Bristol Medical School and the Bristol Eye Hospital says a teenager with an extremely limited diet was vitamin deficient, leading to blindness and other health problems, including hearing loss.

The 14-year-old took no medication, had a normal weight, but ate only highly processed foods, including French fries, potato chips, white bread and pork, according to the study.

"The researchers concluded that the patient's 'junk food' diet and limited intake of vitamins and minerals resulted in the onset of nutritional optic neuropathy," the study said.

"His doctors did initially diagnose him with mild nutritional deficiencies, specifically Vitamin B12, and prescribed the right shots," said Dr. Sejal Parekh, who works for the ABC News medical unit. But, according to the case report, the patient did not complete the injection course.

By the time the patient's condition was diagnosed, the patient had permanently impaired vision, the study said.

The patient was then "prescribed the appropriate nutritional supplements and referred to mental health services for his restricted eating" the case report described, adding that though his vision stabilized, it did not improve.

"This patient likely suffers from ARFID, or Avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, which is becoming a more recognized disorder, in which patients restrict their intake typically based on textural, color, or taste aversions to foods," Parekh explained. "ARFID differs from anorexia in that it is not driven by body image or weight concerns. ARFID can be recognized in children with other sensory processing disorders and autism."

Many people who have ARFID experience less severe consequences, but not eating a varied diet may increase those risks.
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