Sick by one-sided diet: teenager eats only fries and chips – and blind – knowledge

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Nothing but french fries? Bad for the body, as the case from England shows. Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto
© Getty Images / iStockphoto

Florian Schumann

Anne Diekhoff

He ignored warnings from doctors, refused to eat fruit or vitamin supplements. Now a British teenager has a damaged optic nerve.

In the UK, a 17-year-old is almost blind after years of eating only fries, chips and white bread. The British broadcaster BBC reports that the boy is of normal weight, but completely malnourished. The case was featured in the US journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Essentially, the teenage boy "fed on one serving of fries a day from the local fish and chips store," the BBC quoted attending physician Denize Atan from the Bristol Eye Clinic. He also ate chips, sometimes a slice of white bread and occasionally a slice of ham, but neither fruit nor vegetables.


As a result, at the age of 14, the family doctor diagnosed a vitamin B12 deficiency in the otherwise healthy boy, who had auditioned for fatigue and discomfort.

However, the patient did not follow the recommendations to take vitamin supplements and eat healthier foods. He told the ophthalmologist that he had an aversion to the consistency of many foods. Chips and chips are the only things he feels he can eat.

At age 15, the boy then complained of hearing loss and visual disturbances, but no cause was found. When his eyesight continued to deteriorate until age 17, he again introduced himself to the eye clinic. There, the doctors found that his optic nerve was now irreparably damaged.

Although the boy could still move on his own, because he still sees something at the edges. But he fulfilled the criteria of blindness, because in the middle of the field of vision could no longer perceive. He could neither drive nor read, watch TV or recognize faces.

The authors of the study emphasize that poor nutrition is often associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity or cancer. However, it could also damage the nervous system (especially the optic nerve), especially in combination with smoking or drinking. Although this is rare in industrialized countries and could – if recognized in time – still be reversed. However, if left untreated for too long, patients may remain blind.

"Multivitamin tablets not a substitute for healthy nutrition"

The doctors found that in addition to vitamin B12, the boy also lacked vitamin B as well as the trace elements selenium and copper. The vitamin D level was much too low, his bones contained now far too few minerals.

Compared to the BBC, the attending physician emphasized that multivitamin tablets can support nutrition but are not a substitute for healthy eating. The last showed a new study from the US. Parents who are worried about their children's diets advises them not to be scared when they are particularly picky, but instead to introduce one or two new foods at each meal.



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